The Turkish Supreme Board of Elections has announced that a constitutional referendum will be held
on April 16th 2017. The referendum will propose an 18-article amendment to the Turkish Constitution
that has been long sought by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its founder,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The proposed constitutional amendments were approved by 339 MPs, a majority which is adequate
for the amendments to be put to a referendum.
If the Turkish people approve the changes, Erdogan will become the sole executive head of state, with
the authority to choose his own cabinet ministers, enact laws, call elections, and declare states of
emergency. His presidential term will last five years and he can be re-elected once, meaning Erdogan
could be in power until 2029, if his current term is not taken into account.
In the meantime, according to Turkish media reports from January, the parliament’s oversight over
the executive will be limited to a number of functions, including submitting written requests for
information, initiating parliamentary inquiries, and holding “general meetings” to discuss issues
relating to government actions.
Erdogan claims that the legislation will provide stability, but his critics say it will put too much power
in the hands of one individual and could pave the way to an authoritarian state. The Turkish opposition,
which is against the proposal, says the changes are merely a blueprint for a power grab.