A package of constitutional amendments that would dramatically expand the powers of Turkey’s president won the support of 339 deputies in the 550-member parliament Jan. 21, surpassing the 60% threshold (330 votes) required to submit the draft to a referendum. Backed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its de facto partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the bill is supposed to be put to a public vote within two months of the president’s approval, meaning Turkish voters will be going to the polls no later than the third week of April.
The amendments basically involve a new system of governance, switching from a parliamentarian to a presidential regime. A closer look, however, leaves little doubt that the objective goes well beyond that. The draft contains all the elements that would move Turkey away from the core norms of a pluralist, democratic state of law — separation of powers and a system of checks and balances — and transform it into a majoritarian authoritarian system.