Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Tuesday approved a new government formed by one of his most trusted allies, Binali Yildirim, who replaces outgoing prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
Davutoglu announced his resignation earlier this month, reportedly amid a range of differences with the president. According to reports, one of these was Davutoglu's apparent less-than-enthusiastic stance toward an overhaul of the constitution, which would mark a shift from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidency.
Yildirim, 60, formerly minister of transport and communications, asserted his intention to push forward constitutional reforms that would expand the powers of the presidency immediately. In his first speech after taking office, Yildirim told lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party (AKP): “We will immediately start work to achieve a new constitution, including a presidential system.”
In the international community, many reportedly fear increased authoritarianism as the presidential system that Erdoğan seeks will concentrate powers in his hand. However, Yildirim said that the president was carrying out his political responsibilities as head of state, rejecting any suggestions that he was meddling in government affairs.
The European Union, according to the Associated Press (AP), is also facing turbulence in its relations with Turkey as the implementation of a Turkey-EU deal regarding the influx of migrants to Europe has faced problems. Davutoglu had helped negotiate this deal.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz expressed his reservation regarding Erdoğan's accumulation of power Monday when he reportedly told German newspaper Koelner Stadtanzeiger: “We see Turkey under Erdoğan on its way to being a one-man-state,” describing the move as a “breathtaking departure from European values.”
Yildirim is an engineering-trained politician and also a founding member of the ruling party. According to the AP, he has been credited for his role in developing major infrastructure projects that boosted positive opinions within and outside the country.
Reports suggest that by replacing Davutoglu, Erdoğan aims to unify the ruling AKP in the face of attacks by the opposition.
“Now the road to changing the constitution to include a presidential system is completely open,” a senior AKP official told Reuters.