The Turkish parliament on Thursday adopted for the second time constitutional amendments that include presidential elections by popular vote, in a major victory for the government.
But the bill, rejected by the outgoing president last week, came immediately under a new threat as the main opposition said it could petition the Constitutional Court over what it argued were balloting violations.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) initiated the reforms after political turmoil blocked the election of its presidential candidate by parliament in early May.
The amendments received support from 370 deputies in the 550-seat house, which is dominated by the AKP, while 21 voted against and one abstained, Assembly Speaker Bulent Arinc said.
The AKP rushed the bill through the assembly earlier this month, but President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who has often clashed with the government, rejected the package, saying there as "no justifiable and acceptable reason" to change the system.
Sezer cannot reject the amendments again. He must either approve the bill or submit it to a referendum, in which it is likely to be endorsed.
The government brought the bill back to parliament, arguing that a popular vote is the only way out of the deadlock over the presidential election, which forced the sole candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, to withdraw.
The package also calls for a once-renewable, five-year presidential mandate instead of the current single, seven-year term. It provides for general elections every four years instead of five.
Thursday's session was marred by a row over voting rules between the AKP and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), a key player in blocking Gul's election.
"We may apply to the Constitutional Court tomorrow," senior CHP deputy Ali Topuz told the Anatolia news agency.
The CHP argued that all seven provisions and the entire package had to get at least 367 votes, or a two-thirds majority, to be adopted.
The first article got 366 votes, but the speaker rejected CHP's protests and went ahead with the balloting.
Last Mod: 31 Mayıs 2007, 19:17