Parliament has become burden for the safety of country: Tayyip Erdogan

Parliament has become burden for the safety of country: Tayyip Erdogan

The government and president Erdogan argue that the reform would make decision taking easier especially against terrorism and extremism that have killed more than 500 people since 2015. Fragile parliamentary coalition can thus be avoided, says Erdogan.

"In its actual form the parliament has become a burden for the safety of the country. This system has become obsolete and has to change," said Erdogan in a televised speech in capital Ankara on Wednesday.

The proposed changes are also backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Its veteran leader Devlet Bahceli was once one of the fiercest opponents of president Erdogan, who argues that the changes would bring Turkey in line with political systems such as France or the United States.

The 18 changes foreseen in the reform scrapes the role of prime minister and the president would become the head of the executive and also retain ties to a political party.

In this case president Erdogan will return at the helm of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he founded in 2002 and lead until he was elected as head of state in 2014 after three terms of prime minister.

The president alone would also be able to announce a state of emergency, appoint ministers and senior judges. It can also permit Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.

The main opposition centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) decry Erdogan's slide to authoritarianism and argue that an all-powerful head of state will harm democracy.

For CHP this controversial reform will even bring "dictatorship" in Turkey .

"These changes would downgrade Turkey from the first division of civilised states to the third one just like in the line of rogue states" said Yildrim Kaya, an influential CHP official.

He added "the amendments if adopted will abolish 140 years of parliamentary regime in Turkey ."

Ilter Turan, professor of political science at Istanbul Bilgi University, told Xinhua that its difficult to make predictions of the outcome of the vote but fears that it would shatter what is left of checks and balances in the country.

"Checks and balances would weaken even more ... this kind of system doesn't exist in European countries," he said, as Turkey is still trying to join the European Union, a multi decade's long and arduous ambition.

The referendum campaign has evolved into a fiercely fought battle pitting secularist against the government and its supporters.

Turan regrets that the campaign has divided Turkey even more and urged both camps to reflect on ways unifying the country.

"Supporters of changes treat the 'No camp' of being traitors, this is politically unhealthy," Turan said.

Advocates of the reform say that the current system is holding back Turkey 's progress in a very difficult geostrategical sphere when the war is raging on in neighbouring Syria and iraq and in the aftermath of the failed coup last year after which more than 100,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended.

Turkey is also threatened by attacks stemming from the Islamic State and Kurdish rebels.

Mehmet Akif Okur, professor of political studies at Gazi University told Xinhua that the current political system is untenable because both the president and the prime minister are elected by popular vote.

"The actual system is double-headed and in terms of governing the country is a terrible mess being really neither a viable parliamentary nor a presidential regime. The proposed reform aims to correct it in order to make governing more effective," he said.

Experts also said that the amendments, despite the ideological rifts in the country, would also strengthen Turkey 's investment atmosphere in order to consolidate its important position in his region.

Okur said the fact that Turkish parliament is politically and ideologically very fragmented makes decision taking difficult in a country of 80 millions.

"The ideological rivalry raging on in politics reflects deeply in Turkish society. If we were to hold a referendum on which colour the public buses should be, the polarisation a cross the country will be as bad as it is with this constitutional reform," he said.

Erdogan is adored by his many supporters who cherish a leader perceived to represent the lower-class and religiously conservative sections of society, but he is disliked by his numerous critics making him the main focus of this popular vote.

For Okur demonizing the proposed changes because of Erdogan himself and his political belief are irrelevant and uncalled for while he is convinced that in the future it would also benefit the opposition in a better functioning governance.

"They can also see one of them at the top post," he said.