Turkey – Further constitutional reflection

The Turkish governing party, the AKP, is about to embark on another period of constitutional reflection. The recent referendum was seen as a ‘dry run’ for perhaps more wide-ranging reform. Given the referendum was successful, the way is now clear for more profound changes to be considered. Indeed, the idea of a new constitution is being debated.

Hürriyet Daily News is reporting that three particular issues are to be discussed when the AKP has a ‘think-in’ next month: whether or not Turkey should adopt a presidential system, President Abdullah Gül’s tenure, and the date of the general elections.

The debate over whether or not to introduce a presidential system has been rumbling for some time. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is in favour, whereas, in a separate article, Hürriyet Daily News reports that President Abdullah Gül is warning against such a system. He believes there should be a new constitution, but that a presidential system should not be adopted.

The issue of President Gül’s tenure is interesting. As reported in the very first post on this blog, the 2007 reform reduced the president’s term from seven years to five years. However, the reform was passed a few months after Gül was elected. So, the question is whether he should serve for a seven-year term or a five-year term.

If there is to be a new constitution, then the likelihood is that it will be presented after the 2011 legislative election and only if the AKP is re-elected, which looks probable. The election is due to take place in the summer and may be delayed or brought forward slightly for that reason.

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