Turkey says it may hold a referendum in the coming months on adopting a presidential system instead of the current parliamentary one as well as other amendments to the constitution.
“If the parliament puts the issue on its agenda and makes a quick decision, the referendum will be brought to the people quickly, even before the spring,” Bekir Bozdag told the Kanal 24 television station.
The announcement comes a few days after Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim signaled that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is poised to push ahead with his plans to overhaul the constitution and strengthen his own power.
“Turkey must give the de facto situation a legal status,” said Yildirim. “We will at once take steps in this direction and will let either parliament or the people decide.”
Erdogan has long been campaigning for a presidential system based on the claim that the country cannot be run by two strongmen.
However, critics say giving sweeping powers to the president could push the country into an autocracy under Erdogan.
He once famously urged that the plebiscite to be held back in May and hot on the heels of Prime Minister and longtime henchman Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation.
“In order to be strong, we need to rapidly present a presidential system which is the guarantee of stability and trust to the approval of the people,” he said at the time.
Prior to his resignation, the party had already stripped the premier of the power to elect provincial party officials, dealing a body blow to his political leeway.
The Turkish head of state has been harping on more loudly about the introduction of a presidential system since July 15, when the country crushed a coup attempt, consolidating Erdogan's power and popularity.
The coup has been followed by mass scale suspensions and dismissal from public sectors of people speculated to have had a role in the subversive push or suspected of anti-government sentiments.