World Bulletin / News Desk
Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), called for people to vote in favor of changing Turkey’s constitution in the April 16 referendum.
“For sure, we will say ‘Yes’ for the state, we will say ‘Yes’ for the nation, we will say ‘Yes’ for the republic, we will say ‘Yes’ for the survival of the Turkishness,” he told MHP lawmakers in Ankara.
He added that a presidential system would “bring peace to the country and order to the state.”
The MHP’s support allowed the constitutional reform bill to pass through parliament last month with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposals to a referendum.
Constitutional reform has been under discussion since then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was voted president in August 2014.
The 18-article bill would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and abolish the post of prime minister. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
Other changes would see the minimum age for parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies rise to 600. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.
Bahceli also reiterated his party’s “unconditional support” for a return of the death penalty following July’s attempted coup and criticized the governing Justice and Development (AK) Party for dragging its feet on bringing back hanging.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 but since the July 15 defeated coup, in which 248 people were killed, there have been calls for it to be reintroduced. Erdogan has said he would ratify any such bill presented by parliament.
The EU has warned that reinstating capital punishment would automatically end Turkey’s bid to join the union.