Turkey Vote on Erdogan Party Ties Likely This Year, Adviser Says

  • AKP wants to change constitution to make Erdogan party leader
  • Steps pave way for Erdogan to bolster presidential power

Turkey will probably hold a referendum this year on whether to allow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to have party ties, a step toward granting him an executive presidency, according to one of his advisers.

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The vote is a “transition formula to have Erdogan effectively exercise his executive powers as president and party leader,” Ilnur Cevik said in an interview in Ankara on Wednesday.

Erdogan, who ran turkey as premier for more than a decade, has been seeking to turn his largely ceremonial office into an executive one since he became president in 2014, sidelining his handpicked successor, Ahmet Davutoglu, along the way. Davutoglu, who also heads the ruling AK party, decided last week to step down after losing a struggle over Erdogan’s quest for greater powers.

The AKP will push in June for the constitutional changes to allow Erdogan to officially become its leader. The party will seek support for a “mini-constitutional change package,” according to Burhan Kuzu, member of the AKP’s central board.

Erdogan argues that the change to a presidential system would provide Turkey with strong leadership and extend a period of strong economic growth.

The referendum will likely be held simultaneously with a vote seeking to lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution, Cevik said, a measure that would pave the way for members of the pro-Kurdish HDP party to be tried on terrorism charges.

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