Turkish debates on new constitution enter 3rd day

Constitutional amendment bill needs at least 330 parliamentary votes to pass

Turkish debates on new constitution enter 3rd day

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Debates over a controversial draft constitution that aims to replace Turkey's 1982 post-coup constitution entered the third day on Thursday.

Turkey has been governed under a parliamentary system for decades. The country has been discussing the possible introduction of a presidential system for a long while now and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had expressed his willingness for such a change.

On Tuesday, parliament began holding discussions on the bill. During this first session of debates, which are due to end later this month, Turkey's four major political parties will discuss the draft and any motions for amendment. A subsequent session will be devoted exclusively to discussing possible amendments.

Five of 18 proposed articles have been approved by parliament.

In the latest articles to be passed, the text of Article 9 of the constitution -- "judicial power shall be exercised by independent courts on behalf of the Turkish Nation" -- was changed to read "independent and impartial courts". Another article increased the number of lawmakers from 550 to 600 to reflect the country's burgeoning population.

A third article lowers the minimum age of parliamentary candidates from 25 to 18 and prohibits individuals from running if they have any connection to the military.

A fourth article says parliamentary and presidential elections -- each for five-year terms -- will be held on the same day.

The fifth, which outlines parliament's responsibilities, ends its authorization to question ministers and cabinet members.

Constitutional reform and the change to a presidential system has been on the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former prime minister and Justice and Development (AK) Party leader, was elected president in August 2014. This marked the first time a Turkish president had been directly chosen by popular vote.

On Dec. 30, a constitutional committee of deputies from the AK Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) submitted a proposed bill to parliament for ratification. Turkey's largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) remain opposed to the proposed changes.

If it passes parliament by 330 of 550 deputies, it will be voted on in a national referendum. If it obtains the support of 367 lawmakers, it can pass into law without referendum although Erdogan has said he would push for a referendum even if the draft is approved by the two-third majority.

Proposed changes to the constitution require a simple majority (51 percent). The AK Party has 316 seats and Erdogan hopes the support of the MHP, which has 39 seats, will secure a referendum.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has equated supporting the bill with treason. His party has said the changes do not aim to change the governmental system but to "change the main mechanism of the democratic Republic of Turkey".

It added: “The new changes aim to gather all power in a single person.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Ocak 2017, 17:04