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Will presidential referendum kill Turkey's democracy?

Turkish voters have a chance to avert the country’s descent into a party-state autocracy in a referendum, after parliament approved constitutional amendments to install a presidential regime.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan poses as he casts his ballot at a polling station in Istanbul, Turkey November 1, 2015. Turks began voting on Sunday amid worsening security and economic worries in a snap parliamentary election that could profoundly impact the divided country's trajectory and that of President Tayyip Erdogan. The parliamentary poll is the second in five months, after the ruling AK Party founded by Erdogan failed to retain its single-party majority in June.  REUTERS/Murad Sezer   - RTX1U7U8
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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.

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