Turkish President Recep Erdogan rejected on Friday the idea he would bring federalism to the country if he wins an upcoming constitutional referendum, as he faced last-minute pressure from hardline nationalists, whose support might be crucial.
The pressure came from Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who has backed Erdogan’s bid for expanding presidential powers and is an ally in the campaign ahead of the vote on Sunday.
NAN reports that Turkish citizens will head to the polls to vote on a new draft constitution which could dramatically increase the powers of Erdogan.
If voters approve the constitutional reforms on Sunday, Erdogan would get greater powers to influence politics and justice, including the right to declare a state of emergency by himself.
Bahceli voiced concern on Thursday night over remarks by an advisor to the president, who reportedly said a “state” system could be possible for Turkey.
Nationalists have long supported Turkey’s unitary state; for example, provincial governors are appointed by the central government.
On the other side, Kurdish nationalists and many leftists have been vocally supportive of federalism in the country of approximately 80 million.
Speaking in Konya, Erdogan was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying about federalism or any state-based system: “None of these have ever been on our agenda, and will not be.”
The MHP, which in terms of votes, came third in the last parliamentary election, is sharply split over the referendum.
Though Bahceli has supported Erdogan, many other prominent members have come out in favour of a “no” vote.
Polls have indicated the race is tight, though the “yes” camp appears to be ahead.
“We are as sensitive as our nationalist brothers on the unitary state issue,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, according to Anadolu, trying to put to rest concerns among the right wing.(dpa/NAN)