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Turkey set to scrap prime minister position in new system: Minister

’s Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu

Turkey would no longer have a prime minister under constitutional reforms the Ankara government is seeking to usher in under a presidential system, a senior official says.
Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu told state-run agency, Anadolu, in the capital Ankara on Thursday that one or more vice presidents would assist the president under the proposed system.
“There won’t be prime ministry in the new system,” Eroglu said, adding, “In general there is a president and next to him probably a vice president like in the United States. We might have more than one vice president.”
The remarks come as senior Turkish government officials have already said that they want to submit proposals to parliament for constitutional changes that will bolster the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They have stressed that the changes are needed to “eliminate confusion from the system.”
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which currently has 317 seats in parliament, needs a majority of 330 out of the 550 seats to call a referendum.
Chances of such a majority increased last month, when Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, also known as the MHP, whose party has 40 seats, gave his strongest signal yet that he could back such a referendum.
The support by the MHP, the fourth party in parliament by seats, would be enough to allow the referendum to go ahead even if it is opposed by the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Elsewhere in his remarks, Eroglu predicted that the proposed package, which is believed to give Erdogan sweeping powers, would be put to a referendum next spring with the support of lawmakers from the MHP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo by AFP)

Erdogan, who was elected in August 2014 after over 11 years of serving as prime minister, was confident before the election that he could transform Turkey into a presidential republic.
The AKP officials say the constitutional changes are needed to legalize the president becoming the country’s number one executive figure.
Critics say giving sweeping powers to the president could push the country into an autocracy under Erdogan.
The Turkish government has sought a presidential system more seriously since July 15, when the country crushed a coup attempt, consolidating Erdogan’s power.