Turkey holds its parliamentary elections on Sunday 7 June. In Turkey’s last parliamentary elections, in 2011, 43 million of the country’s 50 million eligible voters came to the polling station. On Sunday, a similar number are predicted to turn out to elect 550 people to form the 25th parliament of Turkey. The parliament is known as the grand national assembly. Turkey is an emerging democracy and has an interesting electoral system, which will be tested during this election. The president is hoping his party will gain a “super-majority” in the parliament, allowing it to make changes to the constitution without holding a referendum, and thus enabling it to introduce stronger presidential powers and change the shape of Turkish politics.
Turkey has a president and a prime minster. The prime minister is the leader of whichever party wins a majority in parliamentary elections, such as those being held on the weekend. The president used to be appointed by parliament, but a referendum in 2010 changed that to allow for direct presidential elections, the first of which was held last August and won by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan had been, until that point, prime minister of Turkey and leader of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).
Erdoğan claims the current parliamentary system is ineffective and is calling for Turkey to move to a strong presidential system of government, which he believes necessary to turn Turkey into a world power.
In order to strengthen presidential powers, the ruling party would need to change Turkey’s constitution, which can happen in different ways depending on how many seats the ruling party wins. A party needs to win 276 seats to form a government, but if it wins 330 seats it can call referendums on proposed constitutional changes throughout its rule. If it wins 367 seats – a two-thirds majority – it can change the constitution without calling a referendum, giving the ruling party an enormous amount of power.