Majority of Turks against executive presidential system - survey

Support for the executive presidential system inaugurated after Turkey’s national elections last year has fallen below 40 percent, a poll commissioned by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said.

Just 37 percent believe the new system, which vastly enhances the president’s powers, has benefitted the country, secularist daily Cumhuriyet reported. Fifty-four percent of respondents said the new system was not beneficial.

Turkey voted to move to the new system in a referendum in 2017, which was held during a period of emergency rule following a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The new system has done away with the position of prime minister and handed executive power to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also tying key institutions to the presidency.

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) said the new system would allow for the smoother running of government and place the parliament, in charge of legislature, as a counterweight to the president’s executive powers.

But critics say it has tightened Erdoğan’s grip on the country and ushered in one-man rule.

More than 80 percent of AKP voters said they were in favour of the new system, but 53 percent of all respondents said they wished for a return to the parliamentary system, Cumhuriyet reported.

Meanwhile, 64 percent of voters for the AKP’s coalition partners, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said they disagreed with the new system. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli was a key ally of Erdoğan’s during the 2017 referendum campaign.

Turkey has had a troubled year since the new system was inaugurated after the June 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections, going through a currency crisis in August 2018 and entering a recession in the final quarter of the year.

Erdoğan’s vice president, Fuat Oktay, began an initiative to evaluate and improve the new system this year.