‘Yes’ to constitutional reform for preservation of Turkishness: ultra-nationalist MP

Ismet Buyukataman, MHP General Secretary

Ismet Buyukataman, the general secretary of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who backed the constitutional reform proposal made by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament, has said in a written statement that they will say ‘yes’ in the referendum “for the preservation of Turkishness”.

“As the MHP, we will say ‘yes’ for the people, ‘yes’ for the state, ‘yes’ for the republic, and ‘yes’ for the preservation of Turkishness”, said Buyukataman. The constitution, which Buyukataman claims was prepared jointly by the AKP and the MHP, gives the president sweeping executive powers.

Existing disagreements within the ultra-nationalist party were exacerbated after the draft constitutional reform package was approved in parliament. Umit Ozdag, MHP Gaziantep deputy, claimed earlier in the week that, “no Turkish nationalist can say ‘yes’ to such a constitution”.

The constitutional reform proposal adopted by parliament is expected to be approved by President Erdogan in the next few days, which then triggers a referendum date within sixty days.

Analysts and commentators are expecting an intense campaign on both sides of the debate with the Republican People’s Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party leading the ‘no’ camp.