Ruling AKP 'to strengthen executive presidential system in new constitution draft'

The new constitution draft that will be proposed by the AKP-MHP alliance will not seek to abolish the 50 percent threshold required for a presidential election candidate to win the race in the first round, daily Cumhuriyet reported. Despite opposition leaders' demand to return to the parliamentary system, the new constitution draft will attempt to strengthen the current presidential executive system.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli (L) paid a visit to Erdoğan on Feb 4.

Duvar English

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not call for an amendment to the presidential election system in the new constitution and maintain the 50 percent threshold criteria required for an election candidate to win the race in the first round, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Feb. 5.

Basing its report on backstage rumors, the newspaper said that the People's Alliance (“Cumhur İttifakı”) will not “make concessions to the presidential executive system.”

In the current system, the presidential election can be held in either one or two rounds. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round, then the election comes to end. But if all of the candidates garner less than 50 percent of the votes each, then a second round is held, with two candidates participating in the race.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the ruling AKP chair, earlier this week talked about the necessity of a new constitution, saying this will be realized if his ruling AKP reaches an agreement with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 

The People's Alliance will initially try to get the approval of 360 lawmakers, two-third majority, to go to a referendum for the constitutional changes. As the AKP-MHP alliance falls short of reaching this number, it will try to persuade 10 independent deputies to align with itself. If it still fails to attain this number, the 2023 elections will be held under the current constitution.

Erdoğan on Feb. 4 held a one-hour-long meeting with MHP chair Bahçeli. An official statement was not released with regards to the content of the meeting, but Cumhuriyet said that the two leaders agreed to take steps “to strengthen the current presidential executive system,” despite opposition leaders' demand to return to the parliamentary system.

The new constitution draft is expected to include clauses that will block the realization of a strengthened parliamentary system and maintain the president's power to issue decrees, said the newspaper.

Under the current presidential executive system, a lawsuit can be brought against a presidential decree, should it violate the constitution. However, there is a loophole in the constitution on how this “inspection” system should proceed. The People's Alliance wants to clarify this issue in the new constitution, which is why Erdoğan is said to have held a meeting with Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan on Feb. 4.

The last time that Turkey made changes to its constitution was in 2017, allowing Erdoğan sweeping new powers. The amendments, which were jointly brought by the AKP and MHP, allowed the president to be a party chairman.