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

Demir Murat Seyrek | European Policy Centre |

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.

About Demir Murat Seyrek

Dr. Demir Murat Seyrek is a Senior Policy Advisor at the European Foundation for Democracy. His work focuses on prevention of radicalisation and the role that civil society can play in supporting vulnerable communities to build resilience from within. He also manages a programme monitoring online radicalisation. Murat began his career as the Brussels representative of the ARI Movement, a leading Turkish NGO, working on Turkey-EU relations and democratisation. During the Cyprus peace process (2003-2004) he took an active role establishing contacts with the EU institutions and European think tanks on behalf of the Leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community. Murat has published widely on contemporary aspects of Turkish politics and foreign policy, including in academic journals, newspapers and think tank publications. He also appears regularly on television and in print media and is a regular columnist for the Deutsche Welle Turkish. He holds a PhD in Political Science and an MA in European Studies from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and a BSc in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University (Turkey). Murat speaks Turkish, English and French.

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