Turkey: Federal system not on agenda, Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday “federalism is not in our agenda” ahead of Sunday’s pivotal referendum on constitutional reform.

“A federal system is not on our agenda, nor will it ever be,” Erdogan told crowds gathered for a referendum rally in the city of Konya. “We are the greatest advocate of the unitary structure of Turkey.”

The federalism row came after one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advisers published an article earlier this month arguing for local administrative reform to get rid of the double system of elected mayors and appointed governors. The article was interpreted as a call for federalism by the media. This stirred the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which said its supporters would likely vote “no” if Sunday’s referendum led to a disintegration of the unitary Turkish state.

The Kurds of Turkey, who are the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, have been struggling for autonomy in Turkey for decades and a decentralised form of government has been voiced by Kurdish movements.