Turkey heads toward vote on stronger presidency

Ankara —Turkey’s ruling AK Party will soon bring to parliament its plans to expand the powers of the presidency, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday, paving the way for a referendum which the nationalist opposition said it would not oppose.
President Tayyip Erdogan has long wanted an executive presidency, a Turkish version of the system in the United States or France, saying the country needs strong leadership. His opponents fear the change would mean growing authoritarianism.
“We in the AK Party will bring to our great parliament our proposal containing constitutional change and the presidential system,” Yildirim told reporters in Ankara, before a meeting of the AKP in parliament. Asked when, he said: “As soon as possible”.
The government said last week it would revive efforts to change the constitution after the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the smallest of the four parties in parliament, indicated it would not oppose a national vote on the issue. That announcement helped send the lira currency to a record low as investors worried about renewed political uncertainty in a country which has held four nationwide elections in the last 2-1/2 years. “The MHP is in favour of the continuation of the parliamentary system but also does not see a problem in asking the people their view,” MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said in a speech to his party’s lawmakers. —Reuters

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