Turkish President Erdogan mulls more constitutional changes after tight presidential election

ANKARA — Following his failure to secure an outright victory in the first round of the presidential elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly exploring amendments to the constitution. The proposed change targets the clause mandating that a presidential candidate must attain 50% plus 1 in the initial round to claim victory without proceeding to a second round.

Erdogan publicly broached this potential modification upon his return from Germany, sparking discussions among political observers. Analysts interpret this move as indicative of Erdogan’s concerns and uncertainty, particularly in light of his inability to secure a win in the previous elections within the first round.

Quoting analysts, the Turkish newspaper Zaman reported that Erdogan’s contemplation of altering the presidential election system reflects a decline in his popularity and a realization that he may struggle to garner the necessary 50% of votes in the initial round, echoing the outcome of the recent elections.

Responding to this development, Murat Amir, a member of the Turkish Parliament’s Constitutional Committee from the opposition Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP), asserted that the contemplation of constitutional changes and hints at altering the election system signify internal contradictions within the government. Amir emphasized that the ruling authority aims to maintain presidential powers irrespective of the percentage required for a first-round victory, citing the recent judicial crisis between the Constitutional Court and the Court of Cassation as a factor facilitating constitutional amendments.

Since Turkey’s shift to a presidential system in 2017, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), has sought comprehensive control over the state. This ambition persists despite challenges arising from the government’s economic policies and diplomatic relations with neighboring countries and its ostensible allies in the west.