On April 17th, Turkey voted to give its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan greater power. This referendum, which is a massive overhaul on power and regulations of presidential abilities, is the first time in the nation’s history that the ruling system has been changed through civil politics. Turkish politics has had an ugly history of military coups for decades and this referendum is very significant.
Despite that Turkey’s three main cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, voted primarily against the referendum, enough votes from rural areas were garnered in favor of it. 51.5% voted in favor of the referendum.
Most of these new implementations will come into effect after 2019, which is after the next election period. The changes will cause Turkey to replace its parliamentary system and will put in place a system that gives the president overwhelming power. The office of the prime minister will be abolished. The president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and will also be able to select and remove senior civil servants- all without parliamentary or legislative approval. It will also allow Erdogan to run for another five-year term in addition to the fourteen years he has already served as president.
This monumental change comes in the backdrop of a rough period in Turkish politics. In 2016 a coup d’état attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces. The country has suffered from political unrest on a number of issues, and proponents believe these changes will bring stability back to Turkey. However critics believe that Turkey is transitioning into a dictatorship.