In Turkey / Türkiye

Erdoğan cites Hitler’s Germany as example of effective government

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey

The Guardian, Friday, Jan 1, 2016

Turkey’s president has been pushing for some time for a new presidential system to govern the country, sparring with critics who accuse him of attempting a power grab.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest comments in favour of greater executive powers in Turkey are unlikely to help him bring those critics round. On Friday, he was quoted by Turkish media as citing a striking example of an effective presidential system – Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, he said: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.

“There are later examples in various other countries,” he told reporters, according to a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency and reported by Reuters.

A Turkish official sought to clarify Erdoğan’s remark. “There are good and poor examples of presidential systems and the important thing is to put checks and balances in place,” he said. “Nazi Germany, lacking proper institutional arrangements, was obviously one of the most disgraceful examples in history.”

Erdoğan wants to change the constitution to turn the ceremonial role of president into that of a chief executive, a Turkish version of the system in the U.S., France and Russia.

The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which he founded, has put a new constitution at the heart of its agenda after winning back a majority in parliamentary elections in November. It reached agreement with the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) on Wednesday to revive efforts to forge a new constitution.

Opposition parties agree on the need to change the constitution, drawn up after a 1980 coup and still bearing the stamp of its military authors, but they do not back the presidential system Erdoğan, fearing it would consolidate too much power in the hands of an authoritarian leader.

Erdogan says Hitler’s Germany an example of presidential system with unitary state

Today’s Zaman, Dec 31, 2015

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who advocates switching to a stronger presidential system in Turkey, has said implementation of a presidential system while keeping the unitary structure of the state is possible, reportedly showing Hitler’s Germany as an example.

Speaking at a press conference following his return to the country after cutting short his trip due to death of pro-government journalist Hasan Karakaya, Erdogan was asked whether a presidential system can be adopted while keeping the country’s unitary structure. “When we look [at other countries], we see that it is possible. You would see this when you look at Hitler’s Germany and other countries,” he was quoted as saying by T24 news portal.

Erdogan is the staunchest supporter of the formation of a “Turkish-style” presidential system that he claims will help the country’s development by eliminating “double-headedness” in state governance and thus pave the way for a more effective decision-making system.

Back in April, Erdogan argued that Turkey’s government had been already changed into a de facto presidential system, calling for a constitutional framework to “finalize” this transition.

 

Critics say more executive powers in the hands of Erdogan will likely intensify Turkey’s drift toward one-man rule. Some even fear that he would resemble Adolf Hitler, who was also elected by popular vote but then turned Germany into a fascist dictatorship.

Turkey has enjoyed nearly 140 years of constitutional experience since the inception of the Ottoman Constitution of 1876, known in Turkish as the Kanûn-u Esâsî, and the parliamentary system has been the defining characteristic of all constitutions to follow.

Even in the 60-odd years of multi-party politics Turkey has seen, witnessing four military coups and even having a prime minister executed, Turkey has never taken a step to change its system of governance to a presidential one.

Erdogan has emphasized the superiority of the presidential system many times in the past and said that he wants to change the current parliamentary system of government to a strong presidential system. Claiming that most developed countries are governed by a presidential system, although this is not actually the case, he said in January, “That shows that this [system] produces [better] results. Given this, why should we put shackles on our feet [by sticking with a parliamentary system]?”

Read also:
Erdoğan plan for super-presidency puts Turkey’s democracy at stake, by Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, March 25, 2015

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