For Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: a ‘yes’ result in next month’s referendum would restore security and stability, the president promises. Yet opposition leaders warn that switching to a presidential system of government, as proposed by Erdoğan, would threaten democracy. To foreign observers, this may be strange to hear. After all, a number of democracies are governed by an executive presidency, among them the United States.
But in Turkey’s case, the term is used as shorthand for a constitutional reform package that — if approved — would represent the most radical political change since the modern republic’s foundation in 1923.
Critics, including the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, fear the new constitution would mark a point of no return for the country’s slide into authoritarianism.In a report released this month, the Venice Commission saw “little resemblance” between Turkey’s proposals and the American model, noting that the amendments “would confer substantially more power on the president, and include substantially fewer checks and balances” than in the U.S. — an argument echoed by many of Erdoğan’s opponents.
Since the state of emergency imposed in the aftermath of last summer’s failed coup has allowed him to rule by decree. Under the new constitution, the temporary powers granted to Erdoğan by emergency law would become permanent. While parliament would retain its legislative role, the president could simply bypass parliament by issuing decrees with the force of law.
The constitutional changes abolish the role of prime minister. Instead, Erdoğan could appoint one or several vice-presidents. He would be responsible for the annual budget and national security policy. Yet under the new constitution, the president gains veto rights on any law, a power that parliament can only override with an absolute majority.
- Read the full article here: Erdoğan’s power grab:What the upcoming referendum means for Turkey.
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