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How Erdogan can rule Turkey until 2029

A presidential system that could keep Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power for 27 years will be a political experience that gives euphoria to its supporters and fear to its dissidents.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a Republic Day ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, to mark the republic's anniversary in Ankara, Turkey, October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX2QXOE

The hottest political topic in Turkey these days is the major constitutional amendment the government is cooking up to introduce a “presidential system.” This, in fact, has been the grand ambition of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past few years. But only now, thanks to the political alliance they formed with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), they can find enough mandates in the parliament — more than 330 seats out of 550 — to realize this major transition.

If this transition takes place, Turkey would be abandoning the European-style “parliamentary system” it has been adhering to since the beginning of the republic in 1923 — or even from the first Ottoman Constitution of 1876. In this system, the president is a nonpartisan head of state, whereas the real executive power lies in the hands of the prime minister. Erdogan had no problem with this design throughout his first decade in power when he himself was the prime minister. Once he decided to run for the presidency in 2012, however, he and his advisers began advocating the “presidential system” and a new constitution that would allow that.

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