World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's prime minister congratulated his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s deputies for passing new constitution changes on Saturday.
“I want to see this group on Feb. 7th that is full of energy and cannot wait to go to referendum campaigns’ stages,” Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said during an AK Party parliamentary group meeting in Ankara
Turkish lawmakers approved the long-debated constitutional change early Saturday as deputies voted the last of 18 articles. The Turkish parliament also approved on Saturday a two-week break. MPs will be back on Feb. 7.
A total of 339 MPs voted in favor of the bill. A referendum is expected to be held early April following Erdogan’s approval in the coming days.
The initial round of ballots on the reforms was completed after each passed with more than 340 votes.
A second round of voting on the 18 articles began Wednesday after almost three weeks of debates in parliament.
Yildirim said that the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had contributed to this process a lot and that they would push for a "yes" vote across the country.
“We extend our greetings to the MHP leader; Mr. Devlet Bahceli. He gave great support to this process, he stands by us,” Yildirim went on.
Proposed changes to the constitution require a simple majority in the referendum. Replacing Turkey’s current parliamentary system with a presidential one is the question expected to be submitted to the electorate.
Erdogan and his supporters have argued that Turkey needs a strong presidency to avoid weak governance and allow the country to successfully tackle a number of challenges, including terror attacks from ISIL, the PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
Opponents claim it will weaken democratic checks and lead to increased authoritarianism.Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2017, 23:53