Constitutional change is gonna come: Why now and what to expect
Turkey is talking about changing its constitution again and the chatter can get confusing, which might be the point, or at least one of them, an academic told Turkey recap.
But to take a step back, Erdoğan has sought to rewrite the constitution since at least 2011. For quite some time, he’s been pledging to introduce a “civilian constitution” to replace the current one, which was written following a 1980 military coup.
Having long pitched himself as the leader who’d establish true democracy to serve the national will (Milli İrade), Erdoğan laid out clear steps in May 2015, when he said Turkey’s permanent stability and security would be achieved “through a new constitution and presidential system."
Having achieved one of those steps, Erdoğan made the second step the focus of his opening ceremony speech to parliament this fall, asking lawmakers to help him “crown the centennial of [the] Republic with a new constitution.”
Some opposition leaders have said the government doesn’t comply with the existing constitution, so the debate is a non-starter. While some supporters of the cause, like Justice Min. Yılmaz Tunç, said the constitution has been changed so many times that it represents a “patchwork” of legal codes and needs to be tailored from scratch.
As calls for change grow louder and more frequent, legal scholars and political analysts told Turkey recap constitutional amendments were not needed to address the current court battle. Yet the resulting discourse, in the short-term, could help Erdoğan frame 2024 local elections as a competition of national visions rather than municipal management.
While in the long-term, if passed successfully, constitutional changes could help cement the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) staying power, and Erdoğan’s legacy when he’s no longer president.