With the recent political agreement between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its newfound ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Turkey is quite close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s much-aspired presidential system. Most likely, the parliament will vote for a major constitutional amendment in early 2017. A subsequent referendum, probably in April or May, will give the people the final say. Nothing is certain, but given Erdogan’s broad popularity, a “yes” vote in such a referendum seems likely.
The technicalities of such a major transformation are a story in itself. For outside observers, however, a more curious question may be the historical meaning of this major change. Given Erdogan’s roots in political Islam and the Islamist themes he has increasingly used in recent years, many would wonder whether the presidential system would be the end of the secular Turkish Republic. They would wonder, in other words, whether Turkey would become an Islamic Republic.