Turkish Showdown Over Electoral Change

Cross-posted from PoliBlog:

Last week I noted that Turkey’s president had vetoed a proposal to make the presidency in Turkey an elected office.

Now, according to the BBC, the legislature has thrown down the gauntlet: Turkish MPs force reform showdown

Turkish MPs have defied a presidential veto by approving for a second time controversial reforms that would allow ordinary voters to elect the president.

An earlier motion in favour of the reforms was vetoed by outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

He cannot use his veto again and must now either accept the constitutional reforms or put them to a referendum.

Intriguing. There is not indication as to which route he will go, but one would think it would be the referendum as if he really does want to stop it, that may be the only way. Some background on the issue at hand be found here, here, here and here.

While one might assume that the voters would automatically prefer a popularly elected chief executive, if the move is seen as a way to empower the AKP (the Islamic oriented party that it is feared is seeking to dilute the secular nature of the Turkish state), then the referendum would likely fail.

The question is, and I don’t know what the answer, what are the specifics of the proposal? If it is for a plurality winner, then it would favor the AKP. If it is for a majority system, then it wouldn’t favor the AKP. Since this is an AKP proposal, one guesses that it is for a plurality system. It would seem that the AKP’s voting strength is something like 34%, meaning unless the opposition could muster a coalition candidate, then the AKP might could win a plurality election for President. Given that the other parties have not shown a great deal of capacity for cooperation in terms of legislative elections, such an outcome is possible.

The whole situation is interesting, in any event.

Update: Matthew Shugart has more details and answers my main questions here.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter