Erdogan clears first hurdle to be the ‘iron man’


World, Middle East

Constitutional commission clears plans for executive presidential system, long sought by Erdogan and Turkey’s ruling AK Party.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be able to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and govern until 2029 under plans approved by a parliamentary commission on Friday.

The approval by the constitutional commission after a 17-hour overnight session means the plans for an executive presidential system, long sought by Mr Erdogan and the ruling AK Party he founded, have passed their first hurdle.

The proposal will now go to a vote in parliament’s general assembly, before a referendum expected by spring.

Mr Erdogan and his supporters argue that Turkey, a sometimes turbulent country of 79 million people, needs the strong leadership of an executive presidency to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Mr Erdogan has already turned a largely ceremonial presidency into a powerful platform, drawing on his unrivalled popularity, but opponents fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism in the Nato-member and EU candidate country.

The reform will give the president full executive power, enabling him to appoint and dismiss deputy presidents and ministers, as well as top state officials.

Contrary to the current system, the head of state will also be allowed to maintain ties to and lead a political party. Mr Erdogan renounced the leadership of the AKP, which he founded, when he won the presidency in 2014.

The AKP needs the backing of the nationalist MHP opposition to push through the legislation. Constitutional change needs the support of 330 deputies in the 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum.