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What next for Turkey?

Beklan Kulaksizoglu
April 18, 2017

The referendum to change Turkey into an "executive presidential system" has passed with the narrowest of margins. DW examines the next steps in the transition period as the constitution undergoes an overhaul.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara
Image: picture alliance/abaca/B. Ege Gurun

The constitutional changes approved in Sunday's referendum in Turkey will be implemented in three stages. The first round of the amendments will deal with the impartiality of the president, the status of the military courts and structural changes to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

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Erdogan will become a member of the AKP

The first expected change is the annulment of the impartiality clause, which prevents the president from being a member of a political party.

When the changes are made to the constitution, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to become a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).


Once the constitutional changes have been published in the government gazette (similar to the Congressional Record in the US), the HSYK will be restructured within 30 days. Renamed the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), the number of members will be reduced from 22 to 13.

The justice minister who leads the council and his/her undersecretary will become automatic members of the HSK. Four members will be appointed by the president and seven will be picked by parliament.

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Military courts

Another immediate change in the aftermath of the referendum is expected to be the abolition of military courts. They consist of the Military Court of Cassation, the High Military Administrative Court and other military courts.

The two members appointed by the two aforementioned military courts to the Constitutional Court will carry on with their membership but once their terms are over, they won't be replaced. Therefore, the number of the Constitutional Court judges will be reduced from 17 to 15.

Six months transition

Parliament is then required to enact the constitutional changes and amend laws accordingly within six months following the publication of the results on the official gazette.

This period will be the legislative preparation for the entire constitutional change package, which is expected to be fully implemented in 2019.

It will be a busy six months for the Turkish parliament. MPs will be required to change 144 articles in seven different codes, including the presidential election law.

Infografik Wahlergebnis Referendum Türkei ENG

2019: Triple Election Year

Erdogan's first term in office runs out in 2019, following his election in August 2014.

The most recent parliamentary elections were held in November 2015 , meaning the next ones are scheduled for November 2019.

In addition, local elections are due to be held in March 2019.

In other words, Turkey will go to the polls three times in 2019 to vote in presidential, general and local elections.

According to the constitutional changes, the presidential and general elections are due to be held on the same day, November 3, 2019. However, an early election option is also on the table.

Article 17 of the constitutional amendment allows parliament to hold early parliamentary and presidential elections.

Read: Erdogan claims victory, opposition plans challenge

After the presidential election

The constitutional changes approved in the April 16 referendum will only be fully implemented after the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

Once the official results of both elections - which will be held on the same day - are announced, the constitutional changes which require presidential decree will be fully ratified within six months by the president.