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Turkey at a Crossroads? The 2017 Referendum's Challenges and Opportunities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 May 2018

Fatma Bostan-Unsal*
Ph.D. Candidate, Yıldırım Bayezıt University


A thorough assessment of Turkey's 2017 constitutional referendum requires a review of (1) the process that led to the formulation of the changes; (2) the amendments’ impact on the judiciary; (3) the risks posed by the emerging regime after the implementation of the changes or, in other words, the political governance structure of Turkey after 2019; and (4) the opportunities and dangers facing Turkey's democracy within the current context. The analysis below indicates that the amendments adopted under a state of emergency might result in an irreversible power grab and risk democratic collapse but also offer an opportunity to reconstruct Turkey's political sphere to better address challenges to its democracy.

Special Focus on Turkey: The Evolution of a Referendum
Copyright © Middle East Studies Association of North America, Inc. 2018 

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1 For the content of the emergency decrees see

4 For a list of closed institutions please see

5 For the decision of the constitutional court that declared it cannot review the decrees see

6 Delegates refer to the party's elected local representatives who select the members of the party's governing bodies.