File Photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brushed off criticism that he's trying to amass sultan-like powers, saying he really just wants to be more like Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
Erdogan told state-run TRT channel on Thursday that his desire for an expanded presidential role would not undermine democracy -- and he pointed to the UK as an example.
"In my opinion, even the UK is a semi-presidency. And the dominant element is the Queen," Erdogan said.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy, governed by a parliamentary system, but its hereditary monarch wields only symbolic power.
Erdogan's comments came after fresh criticism from the opposition that he would act like an "Ottoman sultan" once his presidential role has been boosted.
Erdogan said that leaders of presidential systems in the US, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico are not accused of acting like monarchs.
"I mean, why is it only a monarchy when an idea like this is floated in Turkey?" Erdogan asked.
"We need to speed up to close the gap in this race," he said. "The biggest advantage... would be in abolishing policy-making through multiple channels."
Erdogan became president in August after more than a decade as prime minister, but the opposition accuses him of transforming the state by imposing a gradual Islamisation and riding roughshod over democracy.
The August elections were the first time a Turkish president, traditionally a ceremonial role, has been directly elected by the people. In the wake of his victory, Erdogan insisted he now has a popular mandate to be an active and powerful leader.
Turkey is set to hold parliamentary elections in June, with the pro-Erdogan ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aiming for a thumping majority to change the constitution and boost Erdogan's presidential powers.
"A new constitution is a must for a new Turkey," Erdogan said.