The constitutional amendment package introducing a shift to a presidential system will be submitted to Turkey’s parliament on Dec. 10, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, calling for the public to vote in favor of the change “for a stronger democracy.”
“With this proposal, Turkey and the Turkish people will experience a new period that introduces strong parliament and strong executive for a stronger democracy and ends the era of coalitions … We will submit our proposal to parliament tomorrow,” Yıldırım said in an address at a rally in the northwestern province of Zonguldak on Dec. 9.
His statement came after officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) concluded weeks-long efforts on the blueprint late on Dec. 8. Officials from the two parties were trying to finalize the preamble of the constitutional changes through Dec. 9.
Respective representatives from the AKP and the MHP, Abdurrahim Gül and Mehmet Parsak, are expected to make a joint statement on Dec. 10 before the draft is submitted to parliament. The AKP had already collected the signatures of its 315 lawmakers by late Dec. 8 in order to submit the draft to parliament without delay.
Erdoğan: No delay
Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Dec. 9, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the changes, contained in a package of around 20 articles, would most likely have to be passed via referendum.
“The chairmen [of the AKP and the MHP] have come to an agreement. This process will follow with works at the commission and [with a vote] at the General Assembly … We will make our deliberations after [it is passed at parliament] and will then take it to the people [in a referendum],” Erdoğan said.
Any constitutional change needs the support of at least 330 deputies in Turkey’s 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum. The AKP has 316 lawmakers eligible for voting and the MHP has 39.
Presidential powers to be expanded
The planned constitutional amendment package envisages the expansion of the president’s powers as the sole head of the executive. The president will have two vice presidents and will appoint ministers. The new system will abolish the position of the prime minister.
The president will have the authority to issue decrees on issues other than personal rights and fundamental freedoms according to the content of the amendments. The system will begin to be implemented by 2019 and until that time current President Erdoğan will be given some additional powers through provisional articles.
The president will also be able to retain links to the political party he or she is a member of and will be able to continue as its chairman while serving as the head of state.
The system will begin to be used in full after presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019, which will be held simultaneously.
Referendum scheduled for spring 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told private broadcaster A Haber on Dec. 9 that the government plans to hold the referendum by next May.
“The referendum looks like it could be held around March or April, but it could also be pushed to May,” Canikli said, ruling out any early election before 2019. He also said he expected all members of the AKP to vote in favor of the proposal, in addition to the MHP.
The shift to presidential system will put an en do the era of coalition governments, PM Binali Yıldırım says.