What is the Turkish referendum about? Quite briefly, the primary difference between a presidential republic and a parliamentary republic is that in a presidential government, the president – who is the executive leader – is elected directly by the people whereas, in a parliamentary system, it is (usually) the prime minister who’s the executive leader and he is elected from the legislative branch. Furthermore, in the latter, the head of State and the head of government are two distinct people (such as in the UK where the head of State is the Queen Elizabeth II and the head of government is the Prime Minister Theresa May).
The passage of the Turkish referendum has been confirmed last night, giving the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan broad executive powers.
This means that a presidential system of government will be introduced instead of the current parliamentary system. The prime minister’s office will be abolished replaced by an undefined number of vice-presidents. The president will be able to serve a maximum of two five-year terms and on the same day as the presidential elections, the parliamentary elections will take place, every five years, instead of every four. The president will be able to dissolve parliament, although that would also trigger early presidential elections. He will have more authority over appointments to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors – whose number of members will be reduced from 22 to 13, four of which will be chosen by the president while the remaining seven will be appointed by parliament. Additionally, the number of seats in Parliament will be augmented to a total of 600 as opposed to the present-day 550 and the minimum age to be elected will no longer be 25 but 18 years old.
Basically, the referendum ensures that President Erdoğan stays in office until 2029.
Turkey is currently divided between the “Yes” voters and the “No” voters; the first half seeing it as an opportunity to regain control of their country. The other half fears that Erdoğan’s rule will weaken their democracy. Unofficially, the votes in favour scored 51.4 percent – according to Erdogan’s party (AKP).
Many argue that the votes aren’t legitimate since unstamped ballot papers were used. Moreover, Turkey’s three major cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – voted “No” to the constitutional changes. The complete official results are to be published in ten days and they are most awaited by the opposition as well as by other nations.