Erdogan’s Hitler comments create uproar in Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under criticism at home for citing Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler as an example for his controversial push for greater powers, although he has rejected the comments as misinterpreted.
Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) criticized Erdogan’s remarks and said citing Hitler’s fascist Germany as an example for a presidential system shows that the president does not have an understanding of democracy.
The reference to “Hitler’s Germany shows us what kind of regime Erdogan has planned,” said Oktay Vural of the MHP, describing the statement as “an insult to Turkey’s democracy.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday evening, Erdogan was asked whether a presidential system can be adopted while keeping the country’s unitary structure.
“When we look [at other countries], we see that it is possible. You can see this when you look at Hitler’s Germany and other countries,” he answered.
However, in a statement released on Friday, Turkey’s presidential office said the “‘Hitler’s Germany metaphor’ has been distorted by media outlets and has been used in the opposite sense.”
The statement also said Erdogan had used the example to show that an executive presidency does not depend on a federal system of government.
Gursel Tekin, the secretary-general of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said time would tell if Erdogan’s statement was really a slip of the tongue or a manifestation of his subconscious.
Erdogan’s push for sweeping powers
Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which won a majority in a November parliamentary election, has put a new constitution at the heart of its agenda.
To change the Constitution, AKP, which was founded by Erdogan, needs support from opposition parties.
The governing AKP reached an agreement with the CHP on Wednesday to revive efforts to forge a new constitution.
Opposition parties agree on the need to change the constitution, drawn up after a 1980 coup, but do not support the presidential system envisaged by Erdogan, fearing he is pushing Turkey to the brink of authoritarianism.