Turkish lawmakers approve more articles of new draft constitution

January 19, 2017 5:49 pm

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (C) casts his vote in the second round of debate in the proposed changes to the Turkish constitution, at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on January 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish lawmakers have passed more articles of a contentious constitutional reform package, which would give the president sweeping executive powers.
The parliament approved seven out of the 18 articles of the draft constitution proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
If adopted both in the parliament and a national referendum, the constitution would cancel the parliamentary system of government in favor of a presidential one.
Under the new mechanism, Erdogan would be allowed to serve two five-year tenures. With the exception of his current mandate, he could thus be leading the country until 2029, with the next elections being scheduled for 2019.
The reforms would also enable the president to appoint and dismiss government officials at his own discretion.
The president would further be able to be a party member, thus giving Erdogan a permit to return to the leadership of the AKP, which he himself has founded.
Under the new charter, the number of parliamentarian will be increased from 550 to 600, as well.
The AKP has only 316 deputies eligible to vote on the bill, which needs 330 ‘Yes’ votes at every parliamentary hurdle. The party, therefore, relies on its allies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for approving the bill.
All seven articles gained the majority of votes required to take constitutional amendments to referendum.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) (2nd R) casts his vote for the first article during the second tour debating a reform of the constitution, at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on January 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

AKP and MHP say the changes will create a strong executive leadership vis-à-vis the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The proposed reform package has been met with strong opposition from the Turkish legislature’s second- and third-biggest parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Critics say such changes to the constitution will fuel authoritarianism as it places too much power in the hands of the president.
CHP leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, says approving such a bill is treason.
“I call out to all citizens. If you respect what is right, you will oppose this constitution,” he said earlier.
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