Turkish government seeks referendum on presidential system

The government suggests a presidential system would ensure political stability in the country, while opponents say it will give President Erdogan too much power.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Under the Turkish Constitution, an amendment goes to a referendum if it gets support of 330 deputies.

The Turkish government will seek a referendum on switching from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday.

The referendum will be held regardless of whether or not the constitutional amendment passes parliament, he added. 

The governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) wants to change the nation’s existing system. But, any constitutional change requires the support of at least 367 deputies in the 550-seat assembly to pass directly. AK Party has 317 deputies.


The AK Party needs at least 14 extra votes to take any constitutional amendment to a referendum. (AA File photo)

"We in the AK Party will bring to our great parliament our proposal containing constitutional change and the presidential system," Yildirim told reporters in Ankara.

Asked when, he said: "As soon as possible."

Switching from a parliamentary system to a presidential system has been a hot topic in Turkish politics since Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the country's first directly-elected president in August 2014.

Erdogan and the AK Party suggests a presidential system would ensure political stability in Turkey. However, opponents say it might turn the government into a “dictatorship.”

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesman Akif Hamzacebi previously said the presidential system would be "a system uniquely designed for Erdogan, which will drag Turkey into a dictatorship.”


Erdogan served as Turkey’s prime minister for 11 years. (AA Archive)

All opposition parties have opposed the reform, but on Tuesday, Turkey's nationalist opposition MHP party leader Devlet Bahceli said his party is not against holding a referendum on introducing an executive presidency.

"The MHP is in favour of the continuation of the parliamentary system but also does not see a problem in asking the people their view," Bahceli said in a meeting with MHP lawmakers.

The MHP plays a key role with its 40 seats in parliament because the AK Party needs at least 14 extra votes to take any constitutional amendment to a referendum.

Bahceli has made clear he will let deputies from his party vote freely on the question of constitutional change, meaning they could support the reform.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies