Presidency, parliament and party: the future of Turkish politics

President will gain new powers after election, though the balance in parliament could play a key role in Turkey’s political future

Turkey’s elections will be key to the future of the country’s politics (Reuters)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – A year after Turkey voted to leave behind decades of parliamentary politics for a presidential system, citizens have again found themselves preparing for an election with implications that go far beyond choosing their next leader.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained the favourite to keep the presidency but opponents and analysts have highlighted the importance of simultaneous parliamentary elections on Sunday, which could define the extent of Erdogan’s executive power and even the future of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The imposing banners fluttering over Turkey’s roads make that significance clear; Erdogan’s face alongside the AKP logo and an “Evet” ballot stamp, signifying the “yes” vote made by 51% of Turks taking part in last year’s referendum on the presidential system.

Polls indicate an Erdogan victory against his rival Muharrem Ince; predictions are mixed as to whether the AKP, in coalition with their former opponents, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will secure a majority in parliament.

Erdogan has relied on his religious core to help him through 16 years of election wins (MEE/Kaamil Ahmed)

“If the governing party fails to have the majority in parliament, then there might be some movement towards more power for parliament,” Galip Dalay, Turkey researcher for the Al-Sharq Forum think-tank, told Middle East Eye. “All the opposition parties are saying if they win, they’ll rein back power.”

The executive presidency that will begin after the 24 June election will abolish the prime minister’s office, transfer the role of drafting the budget from parliament to the president, and give greater control over the civil service. While an opposition parliament may be able to block some laws, the president could bypass it with executive decrees.

Turkey’s opposition parties with often conflicting ideologies have formed an alliance to oppose Erdogan and the AKP, and while questions remain…

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