Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday another referendum could be held to amend the constitution in order to reinstate the death penalty should parliament not approve the measure.
Turkish citizens will first vote on April 16 in a referendum on constitutional changes.
“I believe that the death penalty will be brought up to the parliament. I will approve it as soon as it is ratified,” Erdogan said at an opening ceremony in Turkey’s western Manisa province.
“However,” Erdogan said, “it needs an amendment to the constitution.”
Erdogan said a “Yes” vote on constitutional change in the upcoming referendum would pave the way for the implementation of the death penalty.
“If needed, we may hold another referendum for [an amendment to the constitution]. If the parliament does not approve the amendment, I want to call another referendum,” he said.
Erdogan launched the Yes campaign on Feb. 17 after the official referendum schedule was announced by the Supreme Election Board. The campaign began in southern Kahramanmaras, one of the areas that gave him the most votes in the 2014 presidential polls.
Constitutional reforms have been under discussion officially since Erdogan was elected president in August 2014.
The proposals aim to hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and abolish the post of prime minister. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
The reforms would remove parliament’s power to question ministers or to stage a vote of confidence on the government. The minimum age for parliamentary candidates would be reduced to 18 and the number of deputies will rise to 600.
Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.
The bill of constitutional changes was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor — nine more than needed to put the proposals to a referendum.