Charter to receive 330 votes in parliament: Deputy PM
ANKARADeputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said he has no concern that a constitutional amendment on a presidential system will fail to receive at least 330 votes in parliament, while repeating a call on the main opposition to join the efforts.
His remarks came one day before the government began to collect signatures from its lawmakers for the charter amendment even though the text has yet to be submitted to parliament in a bid to accelerate the process.
“I am certainly convinced that there will not be the slightest concern about 330,” Kurtulmuş said in a televised interview with state-run TRT television on Dec. 1.
His comments came after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli announced their agreement on a constitutional amendment to implement a presidential system on Dec. 1.
With 316 seats in parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs 14 additional votes to bring the charter to a public vote.
“As a result of the agreement we had today, the text will be submitted to parliament with the signature of the AKP as a text accepted by the MHP. But the content of this text will be something accepted by the MHP,” he said, underlining his confidence of reaching 330 votes in parliament. “It will probably be taken to the agenda and be sent to parliament next week after budget negotiations are over,” he added.
Yıldırım said he expected the schedule for the referendum would be set in early summer, stating that after the voting process in parliament, the referendum had to be held within 60 days’ time. At the same time, he has suggested that the vote should not be held during the state of emergency. Amid suggestions that emergency rule will be extended for at least another three months in January 2017, a public vote is accordingly unlikely to occur before late spring.
“The conditions of the referendum, the process of campaigning has to be taken into consideration. But in conclusion, if the decision is made, it is possible to hold the referendum in 60 days’ time,” Kurtulmuş said.
In the event that a presidential system is adopted, the next presidential election is expected to be held in 2019, but the AKP and MHP have discussed measures to be taken during the transition period to grant the president additional powers.
Kurtulmuş said any provisional government should be dubbed a “transition to the presidential system.” Criticizing the current system for having two executive bodies, he said the amendment was about “concentrating the executive authority in one hand.”
“One of the main topics here is for the president to keep his ties with his party. On this point, there is an agreement with the MHP,” he said.
“This arrangement has to allow the party leader to continue his presidency when necessary. That is the right way,” he added.
Main opposition should have taken part
Kurtulmuş also criticized main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for not taking part in the constitutional amendment efforts, saying they had desired their participation.
“We wish the CHP had been part of this process. But the CHP said, ‘We will not be a part of any negotiation where the presidency is discussed.’ The right thing was for the CHP to participate in this process,” he said.