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Erdogan’s AK Party Seeks to Empower President, Eliminate PM

(GPAAnkara – Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has proposed a bill in parliament to further expand the power of his office while possible eliminating the Prime Ministry.

The ruling AK Party in Turkey has put a bill in to committee that would further expand the powers of the office of President while eliminating several other branches of government. The bill would need to go through the committee then be voted on and then put to a popular referendum that would need to be passed by Turkish voters.

Similar constitutional changes have already been proposed earlier this year to allow Erdogan to seek reelection for another two terms and keep him in the office of presidency until 2029. While it was previously unclear what exactly that would accomplish it now seems apparent that Erdogan wishes to move the country away from it’s current parliamentary government style and place increased powers on his office.

The major revelation in the new bill would be the elimination of the office of Prime Minister which was previously the position which held actual executive power. Erdogan has already served as PM for several terms and while he was in that office he helped change the rules for the presidency. The presidency used to be an appointment position but during Erdogan’s last term as PM he changed the rules to make the position decided by popular vote in a move critics worried at the time signaled him seeking to give the position more power.

Image Credit: Flickr - Creative Commons - Democracy Chronicles
Image Credit: Flickr – Creative Commons – Democracy Chronicles

As his time in office carried on it became apparent that this was exactly what Erdogan intended to do. After winning his first term as with 52% of the vote, Erdogan has now said his popularity has given a new legitimacy to the office of president. On top of that, now that Erdogan has essentially crushed a majority of his opposition through extrajudicial crackdowns and media manipulation, this objective may be closer than ever. The illegal measures carried out by his office have galvanized Erdogan’s position as an increasingly autocratic ruler in Turkey.

While it wasn’t previously clear exactly what type of proposal would be put to a popular vote next spring the details have now emerged with the official entry of this bill into the Turkish parliament. The bill proposes a twenty one article change to the constitution lays out how Erdogan would be moved into a more executive position as president and would possibly remove any checks and balances in place from the office of PM as well as limit the power of Parliament.

The proposal comes at a rough time for the global community as Turkey continues to become increasingly isolated. Between being a member of NATO, talks of EU membership crumbling, moves to join an economic bloc led by Russia while also insisting they’re against Russia’s key regional allies such as Syria; it seems the Turkish state is already ruled by Erdogan’s erratic and self serving behavior. If Erdogan should receive the expanded powers he’s seeking, it is most likely he will just continue to move his country’s geopolitical standing into further uncharted territory.

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