Nilhan Osmanoğlu, the great granddaughter of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, said on Wednesday that she will vote “yes” in an upcoming referendum in early April for on a constitutional amendment package that expands President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers and paves the way for a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential system, saying the parliamentary system has always been bad for leaders like Erdoğan.
Speaking during a press conference in İstanbul on Wednesday, Osmanoğlu explained the reasons for her “yes” vote in the referendum, saying the parliamentary system caused the execution of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, executions by the junta regime of Gen. Kenan Evren in the 1980 coup and the imprisonment of Erdoğan for reading a poem in 1997.
“My vote is of course ‘yes.’ There are many reasons for it. I believe the parliamentary system has always been harmful to people who I call fighting men. If we give examples, I would ask, didn’t Menderes and his friends get executed because of the parliamentary system? They were martyred through that. (…) Wasn’t our president [Erdoğan] restricted because of a poem he read?” she said.
According to Osmanoğlu, imam-hatip schools were also shut down because of the parliamentary system. In addition, she claimed that female university students with headscarves were accosted during university graduation ceremonies in the 1990s because of the parliamentary system.
In response to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s recent remarks saying the parliamentary system is enough to solve all the problems of the Turkish people, Osmanoğlu said: “Enough is enough with the parliamentary system. So, we say ‘yes’ to the presidential system.”
After the Turkish Parliament approved the amendment package on Jan. 21, government officials said the referendum was expected to be held in early April.
There has been strong opposition to the constitutional amendments over fears of one-man rule in Turkey as it grants extended powers to the president, and Parliament has recently been the scene of altercations between AKP and main opposition CHP deputies.
During debates on articles of the package in the last two weeks, deliberations on the proposed amendments have given way to brawls among parliamentarians as the constitutional amendment package, which expands the president’s power significantly and brings an executive presidential system to the country, is highly controversial.
With the proposed changes submitted to Parliament by the ruling AKP and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the president will also be vested with the power to dissolve Parliament.