The night of 16 April the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the package of amendments to the Constitution supported by the ruling Party of justice and development, was adopted as a result of the counting of ballots after the referendum on changing the Constitution. The successful introduction of amendments to the main document of the country means that from 2019 in Turkey officially will act presidential form of government. It also means the sunset of parliamentary form of government that has existed since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. More importantly, the era defined by Erdogan. This is an important turning point in the political history of Turkey, as well as a new beginning in the foreign policy of the country.
Apparently, Erdogan is a politician, who has ruled the longest in the modern history of Turkey. From Prime Minister to President, the position taken by Erdogan, left their mark. After the successful adoption of the amendments to the Constitution, Erdogan is likely to be the head of state on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic in 2023.
Since then, as in 2014, Erdogan became President through direct elections, he sought to gain actual powers. Last year, after an unsuccessful military coup, Erdogan has accelerated the process of amending the Constitution. According to the draft amendments, the President approves two Vice-presidents, he will be able directly to appoint and dismiss the Vice presidents and the head of government. In addition, the President will continue to serve as Chairman of the ruling party, the Prime Minister will be abolished. Such innovations, without a doubt, will complete a two-tier system of management with a President and Prime Minister, and will also give the President more real power. The reason for this initiative, Erdogan refers to the stability and development of Turkey, as well as decrease losses brought by the system.
Despite the fact that the level of support for Erdogan in the country is very high, the results of the referendum were somewhat gloomy, for the reform of the Constitution voted only 51.3%, moreover, when voting, you could only select “agree” or “disagree”. You should think about the appropriateness of the voting process with only two simple answers to this important reform of the Constitution. But, anyway, from a legal point of view, Erdogan changed the political system in Turkey.
After the entry of Erdogan as Prime Minister in 2003, the ideal situation for him would be his rule until 2029. 26 years is enough to change a lot to even decide the future direction of the state. Erdogan also made a promise that after the successful adoption of the amendments, he will restore the death penalty. This fact alone testifies to the great change, because Turkey is not committed to accession to the European Union. It is known that support for the abolition of the death penalty is an important condition to EU accession. This is one of the main adjustment of the political course of Turkey relative to Europe since the days of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
We cannot deny the fact that Ataturk is the father of modern Turkey, he founded a secular country, which has become a model of transformation of the Islamic world. The modern secular state is a product of European history, which is based on the separation of Church and state. The results of the Turkish referendum mean the beginning of a possible separation, not only of secularism and Islamism, but also between Turkey and EU. That is why German Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately expressed a different view, expressing concern about Turkey.
After the constitutional changes, Turkey is likely to be more involved in Affairs in the middle East. However, in a complex and confusing situation in the region, there will be enough Turkey, wisdom and abilities to “solve” the middle East problem, to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire, remains in question. Turkey’s relations with Russia, which is deeply involved in regional Affairs, will become even more difficult, because even historically between the two countries was often friction.
Many doubt whether Turkey under Erdogan eventually to return to Turkey with Islamic traditions, to go back to Turkish history, because history is sometimes half reality and half imagination.
Sun Since, associate Professor of the Institute of public diplomacy Jilin University.