Presidential system priority for millions of Turks, PM Yıldırım says

Published 03.06.2016 00:47

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Thursday that a new constitution and change to a presidential system are major priorities for millions of supporters of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Since he became prime minister and chairman of the AK Party last month, Yıldırım has vowed to replace the current constitution and parliamentary system.

"We will make a new constitution and bring the presidential system to this country," he told a gathering of provincial party leaders in Ankara. Yıldırım described the present constitution – parts of which were written under the tutelage of the military government in the 1980s – as a "coup constitution," adding that reform was "the most important duty for the millions who set their heart on the AK Party."

Constitutional change, in particular the call for a presidential system, has climbed the political agenda ever since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former prime minister and AK Party leader, was elected president in August 2014.

The election was the first time a Turkish president, whose role is currently defined as largely symbolic, was directly elected by popular vote.

Changing to a presidential system is opposed by Turkey's three other parliamentary parties, and the AK Party does not have enough deputies to pass the changes without submitting them to a referendum.

On economic issues, Yıldırım said the new government would stress the role of investment. "We will be a government that produces, invests and creates jobs. We will attach particular importance to investment." He added: "We will take all kinds of measures to prevent waste, particularly in the public sphere."

An Optimar research company survey found that 64 percent of respondents want a new constitution to replace the current one, which is a product of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup. Optimar research company head and political communication expert Hilmi Daşdemir, commenting on the survey results, said: "As Yıldırım's government received 315 votes from deputies and received a vote of confidence in Parliament, Yıldırım's government also received a vote of confidence from the public."

The survey results show that 49 percent of respondents support switching from the current parliamentary system to a presidential regime and 41 percent oppose the change. On this, Daşdemir said: "The survey is about one of the most controversial topics on the political agenda. According to the survey, support for a presidential system is nearly at 50 percent."The result also shows that a majority of respondents favor a new constitution. Describing participants' opinions about a new constitution, Daşdemir said: "It is impossible to prevent the expectations of 64 percent of the people. [Republican People's Party Chairman Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu says: ‘They have to oppress us first if they want to change the Constitution,' but it seems that if they insist on that, the public would oppress the opposition."

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