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Erdogan's Fragile Referendum Coalition

Crafting a Coherent Domestic Agenda Will Be Difficult

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends an interview at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, April 2017. Umit Bektas / REUTERS

In an April 16 referendum, Turkish citizens voted in favor of a measure that will fundamentally change the nature of Turkey’s political system. Although the republic has a long history of such votes—seven referendums, and three of them during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule—this one surpassed all others in terms of its political significance. By a narrow margin (only 51.4 percent voted “yes”), the tally will result in the scrapping of Turkey’s parliamentary political system, which predates the establishment of the modern Turkish republic. The new presidential system will vest significantly more power in the executive and will likely further the development of a two-party presidential system (though it will not terminate the existence of smaller parties) with an excessively powerful president holding most of the cards. 

Despite the radical changes, the referendum has generated very little excitement within Turkey. That is because it will have only

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