Erdogan faces vote of confidence
On April 16 Turkey decides if it wants to be governed by an executive presidency with significantly increased powers.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) claim the new system will make a more efficient and stable country.
The opposition, previously dominant, Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party and other “no” campaigners argue the amendments will make an elected dictatorship, undermining the separation of powers in Ankara.
If Erdogan wins the referendum, he will have more executive powers, passing decrees, setting budgets and appointing judges. The position of prime minister will be abolished by 2019. “No” campaigners say that this would foreshadow the end of Turkey’s democratic traditions, emasculate parliament and lead to one-man rule, unchecked by any institution. Pollsters say the result is too close to call with many voters still undecided.
Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the botched July 15 coup in which around 300 people were killed. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in the subsequent crackdown.
Meanwhile, Germany and the Netherlands last month barred Turkish ministers from attending “yes” rallies for their large Turkish communities. Until recently regarded as one of the world’s most promising emerging economies, Turkey has been hammered by a sell-off of the lira over concerns about the erosion of institutions and Erdogan’s dictatorial grip on power.
The government has been on a push to win back confidence, but investors fear sweeping structural reforms are necessary to boost productivity, liberalise the labour market and increase output of value-added exports.
“Turkey’s long-term outlook will turn positive after the referendum removes political uncertainty,” Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
“We have prepared the reforms, but we haven’t had the chance to implement them systematically, we will accelerate the reforms starting May 2017. These will include improvement of the investment environment, and tax and judicial reforms.”
He said the changes would put Turkey on course for 6-per-cent annual growth. The economy grew by 2.9 per cent last year. Credit ratings agency Moody’s has predicted 2.6-per-cent growth for 2017.
“Certain parts of the government talk about [how] things will improve after the vote and foreign investors will return to the country and structural reforms will start. But we’ve seen these arguments made before,” William Jackson of Capital Economics in London told Reuters.
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