Turkey may hold referendum on executive presidency: Erdogan’s spokesman

Opponents fear the move will fuel the hunger for power of a leader they say has grown increasingly authoritarian

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Turkey may hold a referendum on changing the constitution to create an executive presidential system and discussions on the issue will accelerate in the period ahead, President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Kalin was speaking three days after the ruling AK Party clawed back a majority in a general election, a triumph for Erdogan, whose ambition for stronger presidential powers rests on the AKP controlling parliament.

Erdogan cast the outcome as a vote for stability after months of uncertainty, but opponents fear it will only fuel the hunger for power of a leader they say has grown increasingly authoritarian.

“An issue like the presidential system can't be decided without the nation. If the mechanism requires a referendum, then we will hold a referendum,” Kalin told reporters, adding the change was not simply a personal issue for Erdogan.

“The executive presidency is not a question of our president's personal future. He has already entered the history books. The basic motivation is to make the system in Turkey as effective as possible.”

Kalin indicated little change in Turkey's foreign policy following Sunday's election, saying its “open-door” policy to refugees from Syria would continue whether or not it received assistance from the European Union.

Turkey is under pressure from the EU, which it aspires to join, to do more to keep refugees on its soil and help stem the biggest migration movement the continent has seen since World War Two. The EU has proposed financial aid and faster membership for Turkey in the hope of winning its help.

Kalin also said Turkey's fight against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants and against Islamic State would continue “with determination”. The struggle against terrorism and the migration crisis would be discussed at a G20 leaders' summit in Turkey later this month, he said.

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