Erdogan: I Want to be Like Queen Elizabeth

Turkey’s president explains he doesn't want to be a sultan, but rather more like the British Queen.

Ben Ariel,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s president has big aspirations. He doesn’t want to be a sultan, but he does want to be like Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

The comments by Recep Tayyip Erdogan were made on the state-run TRT channel on Thursday, and were quoted by AFP.

Erdogan explained that his desire for an expanded presidential role would not undermine democracy, pointing to the UK as an example.

"In my opinion, even the UK is a semi-presidency. And the dominant element is the Queen," he 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, noted AFP.

Erdogan said that leaders of presidential systems in the United States, 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?" he asked, adding, "We need to speed up to close the gap in this race. 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 Islamization and riding roughshod over democracy.

Throughout his time in power there have been more signs of Turkey turning more extremist. In 2013, the Turkish Parliament tightened restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.

A year earlier, a Turkish court formally charged internationally known pianist and composer Fazil Say with insulting Islamic religious values, in comments he made on Twitter.

Previously, Turkey's Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted for his comments about the mass killings of Armenians, under a law that made it a crime to insult the Turkish identity. The government eased that law in an amendment in 2008.

In December, Erdogan vowed to make lessons in the Arabic-alphabet Ottoman language compulsory in high schools, despite objections from secularists.

The August elections were the first time a Turkish president, traditionally a ceremonial role, was 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.

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