A constitutional reform package that introduces an executive presidency in Turkey was sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for approval on Thursday, 12 days after Parliament passed the legislation.
The president has 15 days to either approve or veto the amendments. If Erdoğan signs the package, the reforms will be published in the Official Gazette and then put to a public referendum.
According to the relevant laws, a referendum on the reform package needs to be held on the first Sunday 60 days after the package’s approval by the president. Hence, the referendum is expected to be held on April 9 or April 16 according to the timing of Erdoğan’s approval.
The package being held in Parliament for 12 days had led to controversy, with some opposition deputies claiming that the government did not want to send the package to Erdoğan for approval immediately because public surveys showed it lacked the necessary public support to go into force.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
The reform will enable Erdoğan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party and govern until 2029.
The plans foresee presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms.