2017 Turkish Referendum, Explained

Written By Yuge Politics - March 16th, 2017

Turkey voted in a referendum that proposed key changes to its constitution on April 16th, 2017. This referendum, which was proposed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), proposed an 18-article amendment to the Turkish constitution. The proposal was put up as a referendum because the Turkish Parliament didn’t have enough proponents of the reform in parliament to alter the constitution through the legislative branch alone. 339 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for this constitutional reform, and this total is 28 short of the 367 needed to have the changes pass through parliament. Instead the 339 votes was between the 330 and 367 votes that are required to hold a referendum. The important thing to know about the proposed reforms are what they will change, and so let’s summarize the most important details of this proposal (1).

Changed Executive Authority

Perhaps the most important change or reformation that the referendum proposed was the change of political power from the Prime Minister to the President. In Turkey the position of President is largely ceremonial, which is not out of the ordinary for a European country, and the Prime Minister has the real executive authority. The 2017 referendum changed this, with Turkey’s structure of government becoming an executive presidency, and in doing so transfering a great deal of power from the Parliament to the Executive Branch. In addition the position of Prime Minister no longer exist, and this makes way for strong new leaderships such as Vice Presidents and Cabinet officials. These cabinet officials will be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Parliament, which is very similar to the United States system regarding cabinet officials. The President will not only gain executive authority, which includes being allowed to issue decrees, but will also hold power over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (2), which is very different from the United States checks and balances system (3).

Main Points

2017 Turkish Referendum Results


RT International (1)

The Wall Street Journal (2)

The Independent (3)

Aljazeera (4)