Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing for constitutional reforms in Turkey, seeking greater executive powers for the President, citing Hitler’s Germany as an example of an effective government to critics of his plans.
On Friday, after a return visit to Saudi Arabia, Erdogan answered a question posed by a reporter who asked whether Turkey could maintain an unitary structure whilst having an executive Presidential system.
“There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany. There are later examples in various other countries,” Erdogan said.
A Turkish official sought to clarify Erdoğan’s remark. “There are good and poor examples of presidential systems and the important thing is to put checks and balances in place,” he said. “Nazi Germany, lacking proper institutional arrangements, was obviously one of the most disgraceful examples in history.”
Erdoğan wants to change the constitution to turn the ceremonial role of president into that of a chief executive, a Turkish version of the system in the US, France and Russia.
The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which he founded, has put a new constitution at the heart of its agenda after winning back a majority in parliamentary elections in November.
It reached agreement with the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) on Wednesday to revive efforts to forge a new constitution.
Opposition parties agree on the need to change the constitution, drawn up after a 1980 coup and still bearing the stamp of its military authors, but they do not back the presidential system Erdoğan, fearing it would consolidate too much power in the hands of an authoritarian leader.