News & Politics

Erdogan Denies Citing the Third Reich As Good Example for Turkish Presidential System

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a rally in Bayburt, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool )

As we reported yesterday, Turkish president Recip Erdoğan caused quite a stir when he appeared to defend his proposed “presidential system” by referring to Nazi Germany. While visiting Saudi Arabia, the Turkish leader said:

There is no such thing as ‘no presidential system in unitary states.’ There are examples of this around the world. There are examples in the past, too. When you look at Hitler’s Germany, you can see it there. You can see examples in other countries as well. What is important is that a presidential system should not disturb the people in its implementation. If you provide justice, there will be no problem because what people want and expect is justice.

According to Erdoğan’s office, he’s been misunderstood:

However, Erdogan’s office said the president had cited the era as a negative example to explain that bad rule can emerge in all political systems. “Whether it is parliamentary system or a presidential system, bad rules that end in disasters can emerge if the system is misused, as it was by Hitler’s Germany,” the statement said. “It is unacceptable to reflect the president’s statement as a positive reference to Hitler’s Germany.”

In other words, he just expressed himself a bit clumsily. Or something like that.

We’ll just have to take the president at his word, I suppose, but it has to be noted that his envisioned presidential system would make him the most powerful Turkish leader since the Ottoman sultans. And that while he has already all but abolished the freedom of the press, and is routinely accusing political opponents of treason. Somehow none of this makes me more comfortable about the idea of Erdoğan’s ruling Turkey as his own personal fiefdom.