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Middle East

Turkish democracy AKP style

Turkey has a critical vote ahead of it. It is not just the immunity of some parliamentarians that are at stake, but the future of Turkish democracy.

Turkey effectively has a new Prime Minister: Binali Yildirim (pictured above). Even though he is still a candidate and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not vote on the proposal until May 22, this will just be a formality since there are no other candidates. This is also proof that the AKP is fully under the control of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which became blatantly clear when Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu agreed to step down last week. Even though he was unwilling, the order came from AKP's real leader and Davutoglu didn't even put up a fight. This is democracy AKP-style.

However, the power game is far from over. President Erdogan's plan is to bring a presidential system to the country, in which his authority won't be questioned. For that to be achieved there are still obstacles that need to be removed; one of the being the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

So what is the next step? Now that the prime minister issue is out of the way, the AKP will continue to realize its goals one-by-one. The first statement of Binali Yildirim, after being appointed as candidate, was to promise to end terror. This plays well to the upcoming vote in the Turkish Parliament on delegate immunity on May 20.

The AKP hopes to rob 50 HDP parliamentarians of their immunit. The aim is to push HDP out of the political picture and gain its votes. Howevefr, what the AKP does not wish to accept is that this will not solve Turkey's terror problem. Instead of dealing with the growing number of terrorist attacks, the AKP is focusing on the wrong target. It is going after a party that reached the 10% threshold for obtaining seats in parliament.

Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a campaign rally

Referendum on the way?

The game-plan is not only limited to pushing the HDP out of the picture, but also changing the constitution in such a way that the president in power will have broader powers for maneuvering.

If the AKP can't get enough support from the opposition parties and the outcome of the immunity vote is more than 330 and less than 367, then the option of a referendum will be on the table. In such a scenario, President Erdogan would likely not hesitate to take the vote to the people.

The talk in Ankara is that the AKP is planning an additional constitutional change in its existing admendment package, aimed at making it necessary for a president to belong to a political party. This, in turn, would actually provide a backdoor to the presidential system Erdogan is striving for.

If the AKP manages this, it is possible for Turkish citizens that are fed-up with terrorist attacks and deaths to vote in favor of a constitutional change. By doing so, not only would they give the go-ahead for a less democratic constitution, but they would also award the AKP for not going after the real terrorist threat in the country.

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