Constitutional changes in Turkey: A presidential system or the president’s system?

24 January 2017

On 21 January, the Turkish Parliament adopted a controversial 18-article constitutional amendment package aimed at transforming Turkey from a parliamentary governance system to an executive presidency. A nationwide referendum on the changes will take place later this spring. If adopted, it will give the president unprecedented powers, including an increased influence over parliament and the courts. In this Commentary, Amanda Paul and Demir Murat Seyrek take a closer look at the constitutional amendments and what they mean for Turkish democracy. With the separation of powers and judicial independence at risk, the EU is likely to raise concerns. Although this will probably worsen an already problem-fraught relationship, Paul and Seyrek state that the EU should remain vocal in its unequivocal support for democratic values, particularly as the new Trump presidency is unlikely to prioritise such issues. However, they also argue that the EU’s messaging should be done in a constructive rather than threatening way to avoid further tension with Ankara, and that it should continue to provide a platform for Turkish democrats, journalists and civil society to help them raise their voices.

This article is in English and can be read here.