On Friday, Reuters reports, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been trying to consolidate power since becoming prime minister in 2003, offered the Third Reich as an example of a good, effective, well-run government.

Critics are worried that Erdoğan’s efforts will undermine the country’s parliamentary democracy. Erdoğan insists that this is not the case, and that it is possible to increase the presidency’s executive powers while maintaining a unitary structure.“There are already examples in the world,” he said, as broadcast by the Dogan news agency. “You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.” He continued: “There are later examples in various other countries.”

Turkish officials scrambled to clarify. From Reuters:

“Erdogan’s ‘Hitler’s Germany’ metaphor has been distorted by some news sources and has been used in the opposite sense,” the presidency said in a statement.

It said his comments were meant to demonstrate that an executive presidency can exist in a unitary state and does not depend on a federal system of government, and that neither a presidential nor parliamentary system is a guarantee against abuse of power.

“If the system is abused it may lead to bad management resulting in disasters as in Hitler’s Germany ... The important thing is to pursue fair management that serves the nation,” the statement said, adding it was unacceptable to suggest Erdogan was casting Hitler’s Germany in a positive light.

Opposition parties agree with Erdoğan’s ruling, neo-Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) that Turkey needs a new constitution, but fear that the changes Erdoğan and AKP are seeking will produce the conditions for an even more authoritarian leader to emerge.

Photo via AP Images. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.