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Erdoğan shrugs off criticism of executive presidency, gives Atatürk as an example

Women stand in front of the portraits of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (L), on May 11, 2018 at Emininonu district in Istanbul. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called snap elections in Turkey for June 24, bringing the polls forward by over a year and a half after a call from his main nationalist ally on April 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday responded to criticism of Turkey’s executive presidential system of governance directed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) by arguing that the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, did not embrace a parliamentary democracy either, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Speaking at his party’s weekly parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan said the new system of governance will be the “greatest heritage they will leave for the country’s future.”

“Now they say the system is not in line with our traditions. They also claim that they are Atatürk’s party. Did he rule this country through a parliamentary democracy?” Erdoğan said.

“When you look across the globe, the most developed nations are governed by presidential or semi-presidential systems.”

Erdoğan also claimed that the opposition’s problem is not with the system but “those who brought it about.”

“The nation said ‘yes’ to the presidential system,” he said, referring to a 2017 referendum. “Your comments at this point are nothing but verbiage.”

The April 2017 referendum amended the country’s constitution to abolish the parliamentary system of governance in favor of an executive presidential model.

The constitutional amendment package was spearheaded by Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalist ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the CHP and most of the opposition firmly opposed it.

Some of the amendments took effect after last year’s simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections.

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