Turkey bill extending Erdogan power moves forward

Turkey bill extending Erdogan power moves forward

Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:25AM

The Turkish parliament’s constitutional commission has passed a draft law seeking a series of amendments to the constitution, including a switch to a presidential system of government long sought by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The bill, submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 316 lawmakers, passed the parliamentary committee on Friday, and will be put to vote in the parliament.

The draft law gives executive powers to the president and vice presidents while abolishing the post of prime minister. It also increases the numbers of lawmakers from 550 to 600 and lowers the age of candidacy for the parliament from 25 to 18.

The AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have earlier reached an agreement on the constitutional changes.

The planned amendments, particularly the switch to a presidential system of government, have been on the AKP’s agenda since its founder, Erdogan, became Turkey’s president in August 2014.

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.

The changes need to secure the support of at least 330 deputies in the 550-seat assembly before being put to vote in a referendum.

However, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with 133 and 59 seats at the parliament respectively, have strongly opposed a shift to an executive presidential system.

The two opposition parties say such a system would vest more powers in Erdogan, whom they already see as authoritarian.

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