Turkey's Erdogan granted sweeping powers after referendum win
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won a referendum which expands his presidential powers and could allow him to stay in office until 2029. The "Yes" campaign won 51.37% of all votes, narrowly defeating "No" (48.63%), with 99.45% of ballots counted. Turkey's opposition parties have disputed the results and called for a recount. The referendum would replace Turkey's parliamentary system with a presidential one.
Turkey's political system
The Turkish Republic was established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and has a parliamentary system of government. The government is headed by a prime minister, who appoints the Council of Ministers and is responsible for overall administration of the state. The president appoints the Turkish PM and outside of this responsibility, his role is seen as largely symbolic.
The AKP party
Founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), is a social conservative political party and is the largest in Turkey. It has a majority in parliament with 317 members out of 550. Its leader, Binali Yildirim is the Prime Minister.
Erdogan's rise to power
In 2002, Erdogan was elected prime minister of Turkey after an overwhelming victory in national elections. He remained prime minister for two consecutive terms until 2014. In the 2014 elections, the conservative AK party won once again, and Erdogan became president of Turkey and appointed his party colleague and close aide, Ahmet Davutoglu as Turkey's new prime minister.
The Welfare Party
Erdogan was a worker with the Conservative Sunni Islamist Welfare Party. In 1997, a coalition government consisting of the Welfare Party was forced out of power by the military for threatening Turkish secularism. It was banned in 1998 for failing to separate religion and state.
Davutoglu out, Yildrim in
Erdogan appointed Davutoglu as Prime Minister so as to influence him to amend Turkey's constitution to give greater powers to the President. However, there was a fall-out and Davutoglu resigned from the party in 2016, making Binali Yildrim the new PM. Yildrim was more acceptant of Erdogan's need for political change and supports his idea to change Turkey to a Presidential system.
Erdogan harbouring Islamist intentions?
Erdogan's opponents allege that he harbours intentions of turning Turkey into an Islamist Republic. In 2013, he lifted a decades old ban on women wearing head-scarves in government institutions. He also attempted and failed to criminalize adultery and impose alcohol-free zones in the country.
Erdogan hardens stance after failed coup
Observers have long criticized Erdogan's authoritarian way of dealing with dissent. Several Turkish journalists have been investigated and put on trial for criticizing Erdogan's decisions. The failed coup in 2016 further hardened Erdogan's stance. Since then, over 10,000 civil servants were fired, thousands of police and soldiers were removed from duty, hundreds of academicians were arrested and several media houses were shut.
Erdogan seeks to consolidate power
Turkish MPs are in the process of approving a new bill that will significantly increase the powers of the President by reforming the Constitution. The AKP party needs 330 out 500 MPs to pass the required legislation, of which they already have 317. With the support of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, the AKP will have the numbers to pass the bill.
Turkey close to constitutional amendment expanding Erdogan's powers
Sources said Turkey is moving closer toward implementing constitutional reforms that will significantly bolster President Erdogan's powers. The reform would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament, making him both head of state and head of government. Opponents say it is Erdogan's ploy to move Turkey to an authoritarian regime.
What are the details of the amendment?
7 out of 18 articles of the bill have been passed. After the changes, the President would choose ministers and judges and have the power to enact laws by decree. A vice-president post would be created, while the PM post would be axed. The number of MPs would be increased from 550 to 600. Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously every five-years.