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Stakes are high in Turkish election

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Stakes are high in Turkish election


On September 12, 1980 Turkey experienced its third military coup in 20 years.

The previous two, in 1960 and 1971, laid the foundation for a military state. The country was adrift in the economic doldrums and on the brink of civil war. Under a plan to keep the peace, the army seized power and much blood was spilt: 500 people were killed while a further 650,000 were arrested and tortured.

Two years after the coup the army unveiled its constitution, which is still in force in today.

Fast forward to Turkey 2011 and many believe the constitution is outdated and should be revised and rewritten to offer more individual and religious freedoms and respect for minorities, as well as reducing the role of the military in Turkish politics.

A new constitution is vital, according to Brussels, if Turkey is to gain admission into the EU although many believe Europe will never accept Turkey.

Since coming to power in 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had his eye on constitutional change.

This year, as election day approaches, Erdogan has made constitutional change his number one priority. His AKP are almost certain to win the election but the question is: by how many seats?

If the party claims 330 seats out of the 550 on offer the AKP can re-write the constitution without consultation with other parties, which will then be voted on in a national referendum.

If the AKP wins 367 seats, a so-called ‘super-majority’, Erdogan can write a new constitution without consultation or referendum.

The super-majority scenario is something that concerns Turkish democrats across the political spectrum.

Erdogan wants a presidential form of government to operate in Turkey and as he looks set for a third and final term as prime minister many believe he will pop up again on the presidential ballot sheet come 2015.

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