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Turkey as close as ever to presidential regime

An opposition leader’s call for a referendum on a presidential regime has raised the specter of fresh turmoil for Turkey, threatening a rough wave of nationalism, an institutionalized authoritarianism and the demise of dialogue on the Kurdish problem.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli addresses his party MPs during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas  - RTX2G4H8
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An unexpected move by an opposition leader has abruptly brought Turkey to a critical threshold, raising the prospect of a profound political shift. In a speech to his parliamentary group Oct. 11, Devlet Bahceli, the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for overstepping his constitutional powers and acting as a de facto executive president. As a solution, Bahceli suggested that the executive presidential system, which Erdogan has long dreamed of, should be put on a referendum to let the people have the final say. The MHP leader did not stop there. Though he had been a staunch defender of the parliamentarian system so far, he said the MHP could support the required constitutional amendments if its “sensitivities” were respected, lending critical leverage to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Clearly, the Turkish political system is now faced with a prospect that would change all balances, sway political alliances and impact its fundamental problems.

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