Turkey’s Erdogan OKs Referendum Boosting Presidential Powers

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a constitutional reform bill Friday for holding a national referendum that would usher in a more powerful presidency.

Speaking on state-run TRT television, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the referendum on the issue is expected to be held on April 16.

In January, the Turkish parliament approved a new 18-article constitution to create an executive presidency along the lines of those in the United States and France.

The government said the changes, which will abolish the office of prime minister, will ensure more effective leadership, but critics say the changes would open the way for a one-man rule.

The bill would empower the president to dissolve parliament, declare states of emergency, issue decrees and appoint half of the members in the country’s highest judicial body. It would also allow Erdogan to stay in office until 2029.

The post of prime minister would be replaced with one or more vice presidents.

The proposed reforms were backed by a majority of lawmakers in the parliament, but failed to clear the threshold needed to come into force without a public vote.