Turkish nationalists favor parliament system, not against a referendum

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2016 3:53 AM

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's nationalist opposition is in favor of maintaining the country's parliamentary system but is not against holding a referendum on introducing an executive presidency, its leader Devlet Bahceli said on Tuesday.

The government said last week it would revive efforts to change the constitution and expand the powers of the presidency, helping send the lira currency to a record low as investors worried about renewed political uncertainty.

President Tayyip Erdogan has long sought a stronger presidency, but the issue remains a divisive one, with Erdogan's critics fearing it would give him too much power.

"The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is in favor of the continuation of the parliamentary system but also does not see a problem in asking the people their view," Bahceli said in a speech to his party's lawmakers.

The two biggest opposition parties, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), both oppose ending Turkey's parliamentary system and some opinion polls in the past have shown a majority of Turks also do not want the change.

But Erdogan, who founded the ruling AK Party, has ridden a wave of patriotism since an abortive coup failed to oust him on July 15, consolidating both his power and popularity. A poll two weeks after the attempted putsch showed him with two-thirds approval, his highest ever.

"If the AKP brings its preparations on the constitution to parliament and it takes into account our principles and sensitivities I believe a reasonable outcome will be achieved," Bahceli said.

The lira was at 3.0925 to the dollar at 0819 GMT, slightly firmer from its close on Monday. Last week it hit 3.1130, its weakest on record, on political concerns.

(Reporting by Ercan Gurses; Writing by Daren Butler and David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall)