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Turkey transfers some powers to president

July 4, 2018

Turkey has made changes to 74 articles in its constitution, giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers. The amendments mean the president is now the head of state and head of government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/L. Pitarakis

Turkey on Wednesday issued a decree that transfers some powers to the president, as the country moves to an executive presidential system following President Tayyip Erdogan's win in last month's presidential and parliamentary elections.

The decree, issued in the government's official gazette, makes changes to laws dating from 1924 to 2017, removes references to the prime minister — whose office has been abolished — and replaces them with "president."

Read more: The impact of Turkey's election: Erdogan's sweeping new powers

The changes mean the president can

  • form and regulate ministries and remove civil servants without parliamentary approval
  • appoint four members of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), the parliament can appoint seven
  • draft the budget and decide on security policies
  • declare a state of emergency for up to six months (such as the one that has been in effect for roughly two years) without cabinet approval
  • dissolve parliament, but this would trigger early presidential elections

Read more: Could Turkey's opposition reset ties with the EU?

The Day – More Power to the President

When the changes will come into effect: The changes in the latest decree will take effect when Erdogan takes the oath of office, which is expected to happen in parliament on July 8 or 9.

The new presidential system: In a constitutional referendum in April 2017, a slim majority of Turkish voters approved the presidential system. The constitutional change allowed the winner of the 2018 presidential election to assume full control of the government. 

Read more: Opinion: Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins, democracy loses

Term limits: The president is limited to two five-year presidential terms, but if the parliament calls early elections during the second term the president may run for a third term.

Erdogan's rise to power: Erdogan served as prime minister of Turkey, formerly the country's most powerful post, from 2003 until 2014. Plans to alter the system to place Turkey's meaningful political power in his new role were already in motion before his job swap in 2014; before the April 2017 referendum, the presidential role was largely ceremonial. Erdogan was reelected president in snap presidential elections in June 2018, having called them more than a year ahead of schedule. That was the final hurdle to implementing his desired reforms, opposition candidates had pledged to repeal some or all of them if they had won.

On Wednesday, Turkey's state election commission announced its final vote tally, in which President Erdogan won 52.59 percent of the vote, followed by opposition candidate Muharrem Ince of the CHP party with 30.64 percent and jailed pro-Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas with 8.4 percent. 

law/msh (AP, Reuters)