Turkish parliamentary commission OKs constitution reform bill

Posted December 31, 2016

Following a parliamentary vote, Turkey is set to hold a referendum on the changes in the coming months, a move which could give Erdogan the executive presidency he has long sought.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan edged closer to acquiring greater powers as a draft law for constitutional changes got the green light from the country's parliamentary commission. It is expected to vote for the bill in alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) stood at 51.9 percent and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) at 24.7 percent. If enacted, the constitutional reform would bestow executive powers on the president, as well as extending his mandate. Constitutional change needs the support of at least 330 deputies in the 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum.

The AKP proposes to abolish the post of prime minister, held now by AKP leader Binali Yildirim, and increase the number of seats in parliament from 550 to 600.

Critics fear the proposed reforms would allow Erdogan, who already has outsized influence over his party and the levers of government, to rule unchecked.

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It also proposes to hold general elections every 5 years, instead of the current every four years, and the presidential election will also take place on the same days.

Erdogan has already turned a largely ceremonial presidency into a powerful platform, drawing on his unrivalled popularity, but opponents fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism in the NATO-member and European Union candidate country.

Another 29 per cent said they would vote against the proposals and 16 per cent abstained from giving their view, Daily Sabah reported.

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