Expansion of the constitutional powers of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan will have profound implications for the future of democratic institutions in the country. So, the victory in the referendum in April 16 very likely lead to a destabilization of the political situation in Turkey and will aggravate the regional isolation of the country, writes William Bolchu in an article for The Strategist.
Changes to the basic law of Turkey preparing for a long time. After serving three terms in the influential post of Prime Minister, in 2014, the policy has taken a symbolic position of the president. But Erdogan, who played a leading role in Turkish politics to 2003 years, was dissatisfied with the limitations of his new post.
In spite of them, he was a key figure in the country's political arena and through its tight control over the Justice and Development Party, he was able to continue to guide the course of national policy. Potential his opponents have been squeezed into the background, especially in May 2016, when was dismissed Ahmet Davutoglu, who spoke against the reforms. Even the decline in the importance of the Party of Justice and Development after the military coup in July 2016 years Erdogan has given an opportunity to expand their extra-parliamentary powers.
And the proposed constitutional changes only to formalize the de facto president of the board. Thanks to the reforms Turkey will turn out in general something like the British Parliament in the American system of separation of powers between the executive and legislative authorities, however Erdogan this separation does not exist.
Standing at the head of the executive power, Erdogan will be able to consolidate his rule, having the opportunity to remain in power until the year 2029. During the execution of the powers he can exercise a greater degree of control of the state by decree, rather than relying on the already submissive his party. At the same time, we should expect that the pace of rivals in the persecution of the political opposition, bureaucracy, law, military, media, and civil society will increase. In particular, since the failure of the military coup in Turkey to 125 thousand. People were fired from government positions, tens of thousands were arrested - mostly members of the armed forces.
If Erdogan be able to consolidate their power, is expected to continue cleansing, which may lead to yet another attempt of political opponents of the current head of Turkey to carry out a coup. For example, in October 2016, General of the Turkish armed forces in retirement, to predict the July coup, he said that preparing a second revolution. The president of Turkey takes an increasingly Islamist positions, the author notes that there was a key factor in the July coup. If we add to this growing contradiction with the military because of the detention of their soldiers, the success of Erdogan's referendum could lead to another coup attempt.
From the data of the last opinion polls shows that the April referendum could benefit either party. Thus, Erdogan's popularity is approaching its maximum, while the terrorist attacks that have swept the country, contributed to the seizure of power. However, economic problems may prevent the leader of Turkey, so to compensate for the loss of reputation Erdogan may be forced to take a more aggressive foreign policy before the referendum. He has used this tactic before the election 2015, when ordered to resume the struggle against Kurdish separatists after two years of ceasefire.
He may also try to emphasize their belonging to Sunni Islam - a move that has already proved its efficiency among its core support group. Partly as a part of this approach, Erdogan began to play the role of defender of the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. All this led to the militant skirmish with Iraq in 2016 year when Erdogan demanded that the Shiite forces, liberating Mosul, defended the Sunni population of the city. Strengthening of rhetoric in defense of the Sunnis could lead to a further escalation in the region.
In addition, Erdogan is trying to present itself as a strong regional governor. So, when the Ankara-Baghdad relations deteriorated in 2016 year, Erdogan advised the Prime Minister of Iraq to "know their place", adding that he was "not on the same level with me." After six weeks, Erdogan explained the invasion of his country in Syria as a means of "putting an end to the hard-Assad." The increasing assertiveness Erdogan will cause concern neighboring countries, who have not forgotten about the historical role of Turkey headed by the Ottoman Empire.
Although it is possible that Erdogan refuses to these positions after end consolidation of his power, but damage will already be done. It may be so, that the head of Turkey will not give up its rhetoric of fear that it would undermine his popularity.
In the case of the failure of the referendum, Erdogan can go on a dangerous policy in the search for alternative ways of introduction of the presidential system. In this scenario, it can carry out even harsher persecution of his political opponents, especially among the Kurds. This could entail a number of crises in which Erdogan will prove indispensable leader of Turkey. Moreover, in any referendum rivalry with Iran will continue.