Turkey's President Takes a Victory Lap

Feb 2, 2018 | 08:00 GMT

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has since become his country's first popularly elected president, commemorates 50 years of Turkish immigration to Germany at a celebration in Berlin in 2011.

Since becoming Turkey's first popularly elected president in 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has worked to steadily increase the powers of his office. His efforts will culminate in 2019, when he runs for another term, this time as his country's first executive president.

(SEAN GALLUP/Getty Images)


  • Following a referendum vote on sweeping constitutional changes in April 2017, Turkey's government will transition from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidency after the next presidential election in 2019.
  • The odds of a free and fair election are slim given the measures incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken — and the further measures he will take — to ensure he comes out on top.
  • Though former President Abdullah Gul would be Erdogan's most credible challenger, he is unlikely to run in the next presidential race.

In April 2017, Turkey held a referendum that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had proposed and promoted on a sweeping number of constitutional changes. Among the amendments up for approval was a provision to transition the country's government from a parliamentary democracy, which it had been since the republic's founding in 1923, to what some have called an "executive presidency." The office of prime minister would be abolished under the new system and all executive power transferred to the presidency. The president would also gain the authority to enact laws directly through decree (though parliament would continue legislating), immunity from virtually all forms of judicial oversight and vast powers to appoint judges to much of the judicial hierarchy, including the Constitutional Court and courts of appeal. In what proved to be a highly contentious process of electioneering -- the result of which has been disputed -- 51 percent of voters narrowly...

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