Turkey: plan to expand presidential power advances

The Turkish Parliament on Jan. 21 approved a plan which, if approved by popular vote later this year, would increase presidential power within the country and would allow President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan to stay in office until 2029. The referendum plan acquired 339 votes in the 550-member assembly, nine more than required to go to a public vote. Among the new powers granted to the president would be the power to issue decrees, declare a state of emergency, appoint top officials and ministers, and dissolve parliament. In addition, Erdo─čan, prime minister with the ruling AK Party, could once again become a leader within that party. Additionally, the referendum states that a president would be allowed to serve two terms of five years. While Erdo─čan proclaims this increase in power would allow for stability in a time of turmoil, his opponents worry such powers may lead to authoritarian control of the nation.

From Jurist, Jan. 21. Used with permission.

Note: The planned constitutional reform comes amid a draconian crackdown on opposition in Turkey. Debate over the reform initiative has sparked physical brawls between AKP members and opposition lawmakers on the floor of parliament. (CNN, Jan. 20)