Home > 4.2 Presidential elections > TURKEY - Opinion on the Amendments to the Constituion Adopted by the Grand National Assembly on 21 January 2017 and to be Submitted to a National Referendum on 16 April 2017
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Paragraph 55

It is true that the first Presidents of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and İsmet İnönü were also closely affiliated to a political party (Republican People´s Party in this case.) However this model was embraced in the period in which Turkey largely operated as a one-party country. Once a multi-party model was embraced, the requirement for the presidents-elect to sever the ties with their political party was introduced. The mere fact that this requirement is now abolished is a signal that political partisanship is desired. In addition, it should be noted that this provision is to enter into force immediately, while the changes to the distribution of powers will only enter into force after the elections of 2019. This shows that the immediate consequence of this amendment is to enable the current President to take up official functions in his party, although he was elected on a different basis. The Turkish authorities argue that the immediate lifting of the prohibition for the President to be a member of a political party responds to the fact that the current regime in Turkey is de facto closer to a semi-presidential system than to a parliamentary one, and in semi-presidential systems the President is a member of his or her party. However, for the Venice Commission it is difficult to see why this proposed change should not be postponed until after the next election as is being done for the other changes to the constitutional balance.