Reforming Turkey’s Democracy


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 2, 2017

The date April 16, 2017 points to a new phase in Turkey’s battle to become a full democracy. This new period can be defined as the last phase in the complete dissolution of the fascistic institutional dominance that had acted as a determinant at several levels of Turkish political life since the proclamation of the Republic. The constitutional amendments approved by the referendum of April 16, 2017 are not only a positive step toward renewal of Turkish law and the structure of its election system, but also a step that initiates reform in all dimensions of Turkey’s political system.

The constitutional amendments approved on April 16, 2017 mark the nineteenth amendment to the 1982 Constitution. The previous eighteen amendments had consisted of intra system revisions and, in a sense, they were amendments undertaken to modify and fix the apparatus built by the 1982 Constitution. In these revisions, regardless of their depth and scope, the basic foundation of the previous system was structurally preserved. The Constitutional amendments of April 16, however, enable system reform by restructuring the state apparatus into a Presidential system. In this sense, the constitutional amendments of April 16 can be regarded as the first reform step in transforming the political system built in the 1982 Constitution. It should be mentioned that the intra system revisions executed up until April 16 paved the way for the system reform. Therefore, it would not be wise to trivialize or downplay the previous amendments to the system. With that said, it should be kept in mind that the constitutional amendments of April 16 are only the beginning of a series of reforms.

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