Erdogan Vows to Be Powerful President If He Runs, Turkiye Says

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to use all presidential powers if he runs and is elected in August, Turkiye newspaper said today, citing unidentified members of his party.

The premier told his AK party yesterday that he wouldn’t become a “protocol president,” a reference to the current largely ceremonial role, the newspaper said. He also said the election of the president in a popular vote for the first time implies a presidential system, according to Turkiye.

Erdogan hasn’t announced whether he will run, although members of his party have repeatedly said they want to see him elected president. As president, he would have the authority to lead cabinet meetings if he saw fit, a prospect that worries critics who accuse him of amassing too much power already.

“The prospect of Erdogan acting as an executive president unencumbered by any checks or balances would further deepen polarization and affect governance negatively,” Wolfango Piccoli, a political and economic risk analyst with Teneo Intelligence in London, said in e-mail on May 8, predicting the appointment of an “obedient loyalist as prime minister.”

Turkey has been rocked by a probe into alleged state corruption that Erdogan and his government have blamed on U.S.- based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. At yesterday’s party meeting, Erdogan defended the purge of thousands of policemen, judicial and other state officials allegedly linked to Gulen since news of the investigation broke in December, state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

“If the reassignment of traitors is witch hunt, then you should know that we will carry out this witch hunt,” Erdogan said, according to Anatolia.