This weekend saw a narrow victory for the referendum to bring about fundamental constitutional change in Turkey, transforming the nation from notionally a parliamentary democracy into a presidential republic. The result was a personal victory for the president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, following months of repression against all form of opposition and an enormous number of arrests and dismissals. The changes would allow him to remain in power until 2029.
Who is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?
In this profile, it it underlined that “all politics in Turkey is about Erdoğan. Turkish politics has often been dominated by oversize personalities who tried to reshape the state in their own image, from Ataturk to his successor, İsmet İnönü, to Adnan Menderes, Turgut Özal, Süleyman Demirel and Bülent Ecevit.
Now Erdoğan may be set to preside over one of the most important turning points in the history of the republic, crowning himself a leader of unrivalled power in Turkey’s recent history, towering over his predecessors.”
What are the changes that have been endorsed so narrowly?
The 18 amendments primarily deal with the powers of the executive and legislative branches. They include:
- The abolition of the post of prime minister. The president will appoint the cabinet and will have a number of vice-presidents. Parliament will no longer oversee the ministers as their power to initiate a motion of no confidence will be removed.
- The president will no longer have to be neutral, but will be able to maintain an affiliation to his political party. Currently the president has to sever ties with his party once he is elected.
- The number of members of parliament will be increased from 550 to 600 and their minimum age lowered to 18.
- It will be possible for the president to be impeached by parliament. At the moment he could only be prosecuted by the legislature if he committed treason.
- The abolition of military courts.
- The president will be able to appoint four out of 13 judges to the highest judicial board in the country.