09:56 GMT +327 October 2016
    This picture taken on July 25, 2016, shows scarves with the effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a rally against the military coup in Ankara

    Democracy or Dictatorship? Turkey Mulls Change as Erdogan Pushes for More Powers

    © AFP 2016/ ADEM ALTAN
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    Controversial plans to change Turkey's constitution and give greater authority to the country's president look set to be a step closer after the government announced it would put forward proposals that could grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan executive powers.

    Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, told members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that changes to Turkey's constitution were needed to "eliminate confusion from the system."

    "The necessary constitutional changes offered by the AKP be offered to parliament very soon," Yildirim told lawmakers.

    The government's action on the matter comes after Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) recently announced that it wouldn't block a national vote on the issue.

    ​In Turkey, any constitutional change needs the support of at least 367 deputies out of the country's 550-seat assembly to pass directly, while the support of at least 330 deputies is needed for constitutional issues to be taken to a referendum.

    Presently, the AKP has 316 deputies, excluding the parliament's speaker, while the HMP has 40 seats, which means the party's support could see a referendum on proposed presidential changes take place.

    Good Governance or Undermining Democracy?

    While AKP officials have argued that changing the constitution would allow for a more effective form of governance, critics and political opponents say such alterations would put too much power into the hands of one leader.

    The reforms have been supported strongly by Turkish president Erdogan, who was elected into the position in 2014 after 11 years as prime minister.

    ​Since that time, Erdogan has transformed the previously ceremonial role of president and demanded greater powers, which some opponents argue has been a violation of existing constitutional laws.

    Opposition parties such as the secularist CHP and pro-Kurdish HDP both reject the idea of an executive presidency, with critics arguing that giving a president more powers could undermine the role of a parliamentary democracy and lead to a virtual dictatorship.

    ​These fears have been exacerbated in recent times by Erdogan's crackdown on media in Turkey, which has been widely condemned internationally, while the government's hardline reaction to Turkey's failed coup in July has also led some to question the need for more powers to be granted to the president.

    ​However Erdogan has rejected the claims that executive powers would turn him into a dictator, pointing out that France and the US both employ presidential systems.

    Opinion polls suggest the majority of Turks are against the granting of executive presidential powers, however Erdogan has experienced an increase in popularity since July attempted coup, leading to speculation that a referendum could be held on the matter.


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    executive power, presidential powers, democracy, constitutional reform, referendum, Binali Yildirim, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
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