Turkey to continue as a republic, Erdogan refutes opposition claims

Speaking in an exclusive interview with TRT, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the opposition's claims of a regime change after Sunday's referendum on constitutional amendments.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) attends an exclusive interview with TRT television in Istanbul, Turkey on April 14.

Ahead of Turkey's constitutional change referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday gave an exclusive live interview with state broadcaster TRT in Istanbul to evaluate whether the country will continue as a parliamentary system or switch to an executive presidency.

During the interview, President Erdogan has rejected the opposition's claims of a regime change after April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments. 

"In my 40 years of political life, I have had no such claims to change the regime," Erdogan said.

He said the debates on regime change in the country ended in 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey as a republic.

"But this [government] system is not responding to [current] needs," Erdogan said.

During 'no' campaign, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has claimed the constitutional change would lead to a regime change, effectively ending Turkey's status as a republic.

"Polls predict a 'yes' victory"

President Erdogan on Friday said that almost all polls predicted a "yes" victory. 

"Some predict the rate to be below 55 percent while others say it is likely to be between 55-60 percent," he said.

Sunday’s referendum in Turkey addresses a host of constitutional reforms that would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president.

The post of prime minister would be abolished and the president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.

Other changes include the minimum age of parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies increased to 600.

Also, simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new Constitution.