Hitler's Germany had an effective form of government, according to Turkey's increasingly controversial President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey's leader, whose AKP party won a convincing election victory last year, wants to change the Turkish constitution to grant the country's currently ceremonial role of president executive powers, making it more like the USA, France or Russia.

The president has previously served three terms as Turkey's prime minister – currently the top executive job – and was prevented by party rules from running a fourth time. He pressed all last year to increase executive powers for his current role, in what opponents see as a Vladimir Putin-like attempt to remain in ultimate power of the country. The Russian premier has held power since 2000 by holding roles as both president and prime minister.

Erdoğan's critics already worried by his authoritarian nature are likely to be further concerned at these new comments.

Erdoğan's controversies

Erdoğan is no stranger to weird proclamations. He has previously claimed that Muslims discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus, and that women are not equal to men.

He also vowed in 2014 to eradicate Twitter: "We will wipe out Twitter. I don't care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic's strength."

He made the Hitler comparison on Thursday, when he was asked whether it was possible to combine an executive presidency with the Turkish state's unitary structure. He said: "There is nothing to say that you can't have a presidential system in a unitary state. There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany.

"There are later examples in various other countries," he told reporters according to Turkish news agencies.

The ruling Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP), which Erdoğan founded, is focusing on writing a new constitution for Turkey after it won back a majority in the country's November parliamentary election – with the tentative backing of its main opposition CHP.

The current constitution was drawn up after a military coup in 1980, and while opposition politicians agree it needs to be rewritten, Erdoğan's critics do not back the presidential system he desires, fearing it will put too much power into the hands of a famously authoritarian leader.