Deputy PM says Turkey may adopt executive presidency immediately after vote

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Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmuş

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said if a constitutional reform package, which introduces an executive presidency and will be put to a public vote on April 16, is approved, Turkey may immediately adopt the new system without waiting for 2019.

Speaking to Bloomberg, the deputy prime minister said, “After a ‘yes’ vote, I think there won’t be any resistance left.” The required amendments to Turkish laws “could be passed rapidly.” Kurtulmuş didn’t comment on the possibility of an early election to enact the changes.

The tenure of the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was elected to the presidency in 2014, will end in 2019.

Kurtulmuş also said if a “no” vote comes out of the referendum, the government will respect the nation’s will.

In January, Turkey’s Parliament passed the constitutional amendments later approved by Erdoğan that would transform the political order into an executive-style presidential system, effectively widening the scope of powers of the position.

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.

Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, traditionally a more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.

It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.

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