The government-supported constitutional amendment will concentrate power in one pair of hands “to avoid strife,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has said, appealing to voters from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as the referendum campaign gathered momentum.
“Didn’t we once see the president throw a booklet of the constitution at the prime minister of this country?
What an inappropriate thing! They made us go through that. But we are now lifting that. We are collecting power within one person so throwing out booklets will not happen again,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the eastern province of Elazığ, Feb. 18. He was referring to a notorious event in 2001 when former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit quarreled during a National Security Council meeting, prompting a political and economic crisis.
“As the power of the prime minister and the president will unite in the same person, there will be no disputes, conflicts or quarrels,” he added, criticizing opposition’s characterization of the charter amendments as “regime change.”
Erdoğan has long supported shifting to an executive presidential system. Opposition voices say the proposed changes will bring about “one-man rule.”
“The work done in the amendment is about re-organizing the relationship between the legislative, executive and judiciary,” Erdoğan said in Elazığ.
“Today, some of those who oppose the constitutional amendment are doing it because they do not know the extent of the issue, while others oppose it because it may disrupt their interests,” he added.
“My brothers and sisters who have given their hearts to [the ruling Justice and Development Party] AK Party, the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP, the CHP, or even the HDP, I’m calling out to you: Let’s join in unity and togetherness,” Erdoğan said, while revisiting the ruling party’s controversial suggestion that “no” voters will be voting in line with terrorist organizations.
He also blasted the opposition’s criticism of the article re-establishing the president’s link with his/her party for violating the “impartiality” principle of the president.
“Is it suitable for a human being’s character to be impartial? It is not. We have to be realistic,” he added.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also spoke at an opening ceremony for infrastructure projects in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.
“April 16 will be a rebirth. I hope this will be a new resurrection, [and] it will be a sign of revival. We will receive the outcome that would be shameful for those who do not trust you and those who don’t believe in you,” he said.
Referring to recent terror attacks in Turkey, Erdoğan said, “Turkey needs strong governance.”
“Turkey needs strong governance while it passes through its fragile era. We have to change the system to come to a conclusion in our fight against terrorism; [we have to shift to the new system] for the success of our fight in the region and to attain our 2023 targets,” he said.