ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s education minister Wednesday rebuffed claims that proposed constitutional changes would significantly increase the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk on Wednesday, Ismet Yilmaz said that under the current constitution, the actions taken by the president on his own are not subject to judicial review.
"But if the new constitution is adopted, all powers and actions of the president will subject to judicial review. So I ask the citizens, which constitution is more democratic?" he said.
Telling how Erdogan outlined the proposed changes on Tuesday, Yilmaz said if the president signs the reform package before Friday the referendum on it will be held on April 9, but if he does so later, the date will be pushed back to April 16.
Constitutional reform and the shift to a presidential system have been on the political agenda since Erdogan, a former prime minister and Justice and Development (AK) Party leader, was elected president in August 2014.
On Jan. 20, lawmakers from the ruling AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted in favor of a new constitutional reform package.
Two opposition parties -- the People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) -- remain opposed to the proposed changes.
Aside from the change to an executive presidency, other reforms include allowing the president to maintain party political affiliation. There are also changes to Turkey’s highest judicial body, which would be renamed while retaining its independence and own budget.
The reform package also sets 2019 as the date for Turkey’s next presidential and parliamentary elections.