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“Some of the other candidates say ‘we won’t be involved in (building) roads, with energy,’” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Thursday. “I ask them to take a look at the Constitution … They should look at the president’s responsibilities.”

“We are not placing an ornament or a vase in the presidency. (The president) will be responsible for many things, from this country’s development to its unity and integrity. He will convene the Cabinet when it is necessary,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan orchestrated the constitutional change for a direct vote as part of a two-stage move toward a presidential system similar to that of the United States, albeit without all of the checks and balances of the U.S. model. The second step — a new constitution that increases the powers of the presidency — stalled after he failed to muster big enough support to bring about the change.

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Elena Becatoros in Istanbul contributed.