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Photo: “Spazieren in Wien“, by Michael Gubi, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0, Hue modified from the original

Cilliler, Yavuz. “Revisiting the Authoritarian Pattern in Turkey: Transition to Presidential System.” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, October 19, 2021.


Systems of government have been an issue that has occupied Turkish politics periodically since the transition to multi-party politics. Most political leaders from the right-wing spectrum have repeatedly advocated the transition to a presidential system, which they considered an instrument for a fast and powerful executive branch. Following the constitutional amendments in the 2017 referendum, parliamentarism was replaced with the presidential government system. However, this dispute has not been settled yet. The opposition parties claimed that the presidential system would lead to a more authoritarian political regime, while the leading political party saw the amendments as tools to prevent a coalition government and sustain political stability. Inspired by these opposing views, this study aims to reveal the authoritarian shift generated by the 2017 constitutional amendments. It focuses on empirical findings to transcend the rational interpretations of the amendments. It concludes that even the two-and-a-half-years experience of the Turkish presidential system offers tangible proof of further authoritarianism.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.