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Turkey's PM kicks off legislative elections campaign

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Turkish Prime Minister unveils his party’s election manifesto, vowing to change constitution in order to create a presidential system.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday kicked off his ruling party’s campaign for 7 June legislative elections, vowing to change the constitution in order to create a presidential system.

At a rally in Ankara marked by flashing lights and thumping Turkish pop music, Davutoglu unveiled the party’s election manifesto called “A Contract for a New Turkey”.

The centrepiece of the campaign of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, is a promise to change the constitution to create a system in  which the president wields strong executive powers.

This would suit President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who served as Turkey’s premier from 2003-2014.

“We think that it is indispensable to change the structure into a presidential system,” said Davutoglu.

“Conflicts between power centres led to crises in Turkey and a presidential system would allow discord to be prevented,” he added.

Turkey’s presidency under its 1980 constitution – which was drawn up after the military coup of that year – gives the presidency a largely ceremonial role and strictly forbids the president from becoming involved in party politics.

The new constitution would enshrine the president as Turkey’s number one executive ruler.

Critics claim that Erdogan has been acting like this since he became president in 2014, riding roughshod over the current constitution.

Changing the constitution requires a majority of two-thirds of the 550 deputies in parliament. A three-fifths majority is sufficient to allow the calling of a referendum on the issue.

Davutoglu said the party wanted to win 55 percent in the polls.

It remains unclear whether the AKP will achieve its ambition, in what is set to be a tightly contested election campaign.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has vowed to thwart its ambition while the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) could also upset the ruling party if it breaks through the 10 percent threshold needed to win a direct quota of seats.

Resource: Middle East Eye, April 15, 2015

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