Erdoğan’s far-right ally Bahçeli backs call for new constitution

Devlet Bahçeli, the junior coalition partner of the Turkish president on Tuesday threw his support behind Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s surprise call to draft a new constitution.

It is “evident’’ that Turkey is in need of a new constitution, Deutsche Welle Turkish cited far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli as told reporters, adding that his party was ready to join efforts to that end.

In an unexpected comment on Monday, Erdoğan spoke on the need for drafting a new and "civilian" constitution for the country, stressing that the country's last two constitutions, enacted in 1961 and 1982, were drafted following military coups.

The new constitution should be a "civilian" one, Erdoğan said, but stopped short of elaborating.

"It is surely a democratic responsibility to draft a constitution that is supportive and worthy of the new system,’’ Bahçeli said, referring to the executive presidential system that was ushered in with the June 2018 elections.

The current constitution, the MHP leader said, was bound by the previous parliamentary system and creates political and legal contradictions.

Turkey’s presidential system has effectively eliminated the prime minister's post while transferring executive powers to the president, who rules with only limited checks and balances.

Critics have interpreted Erdoğan’s remarks on a new constitution as part of his plans to extend his rule amid decreasing support for the leader, whose party has ruled Turkey for 18 years.