ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Turkish president’s office said Friday that Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not advocating a Hitler-style government when he called for a state system with a strong executive.
A statement from Erdogan’s office said the Turkish president has declared the Holocaust, anti-semitism and Islamophobia as crimes against humanity and that it was out of the question for him to cite Hitler’s Germany as a good example.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Erdogan was asked whether a presidential system which he has long advocated could exist within a “unitary state.” Erdogan cited Hitler’s Germany as one example in history.
However, Erdogan’s office said the president had cited the era as a negative example to explain that bad rule can emerge in all political systems.
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“Whether it is parliamentary system or a presidential system, bad rules that end in disasters can emerge if the system is misused, as it was by Hitler’s Germany,” the statement said. “It is unacceptable to reflect the president’s statement as a positive reference to Hitler’s Germany.”
The existing constitution limits the powers of the president and places the prime minister in charge of the government — as in many European countries.
Critics fear that a presidential system would place too much power in Erdogan’s hands.
Opposition parties have said they favor constitutional changes to make Turkey more democratic but are wary of turning the system to one with a strong executive.