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Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy

Venice Commission Venice 10 March 2017
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Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy

The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, warn against a one-person regime in Turkey in a definitive, as-adopted, opinion on proposed constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum next month.

The Venice Commission warns that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system. Concluding concerns from the opinion include the following:

  • letting the new President exercise executive power alone, with unsupervised authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, and to appoint and dismiss all high officials on the basis of criteria determined by him or her alone;
  • allowing the President to be a member and even the leader of his or her political party, that would give him or her undue influence over the legislature;
  • giving the President the power to dissolve parliament on any grounds whatsoever, which is fundamentally alien to democratic presidential systems
  • further weakening the already inadequate system of judicial oversight of the executive.
  • further weakening the independence of the judiciary.

The opinion, which had been requested by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, raises serious procedural concerns.

The Venice Commission also adopted two other opinions concerning Turkey during its plenary session: (1) Turkey’s emergency decree laws and their relation to media freedom and (2) The duties, competences and functioning of the criminal peace judgeships.

See full press release - Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy


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