The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have vowed to push through constitutional amendments to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system at parliament and a subsequent referendum, as parliament is set to debate the whole package from Jan 9.
Both Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP head Devlet Bahçeli stressed in their messages to their parliamentary groups on Jan. 3 that they will vote in favor of changes to end the process they have started.
“[The constitutional amendment package] has arrived at the General Assembly. We don’t foresee a comprehensive change on it. We hope this blueprint will be explained to the public at parliament,” Yıldırım told lawmakers as he announced that an 18-article amendment would be discussed starting from Jan. 9.
A parliamentary panel approved the amendments in the last week of 2016 after revising it and reducing the number of articles from 21 to 18. Bahçeli’s support firmly in place
Earlier in the day, MHP head Bahçeli reiterated his support for the amendments by announcing that he will vote in favor of government-sponsored constitutional amendments both at parliament and in a subsequent referendum.
“We will say ‘Yes’ in the parliament vote to the constitutional amendment proposals approved at the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission. And we will repeat it in the referendum,” Bahçeli told reporters on Jan. 3.
The MHP has 39 seats at parliament and its support is necessary for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which needs at least 14 extra votes to take the constitutional amendment package to a referendum.
Bahçeli’s statement was not a surprise as the draft was written with the cooperation of the MHP.
The draft will be submitted to the General Assembly on Jan. 9 and is expected to be approved in late January. The referendum would take place 60 days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
approves the constitutional amendments. CHP calls gov’t to withdraw package
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
continued his criticisms against the government for insisting in its attempts to change the system into “authoritarian rule” through constitutional amendments.
“I kindly request from the Parliament Speaker and from the prime minister to withdraw this package from parliament. Turkey cannot handle this change,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Turkey cannot take this pressure,” he added, describing attempts to weaken parliament as a “shame for democracy.”