Parliament completes first round of charter, ready for second round on Jan 18

Parliament completes first round of charter, ready for second round on Jan 18

Parliament completes first round of charter, ready for second round on Jan 18

AA photo

Turkey’s parliament concluded the first round of voting on constitutional amendments late on Jan. 15 with the approval of the last two items of an 18-article package, paving the way for the start of a second round on Jan. 18.

“We have completed the first round of the constitutional amendment without any defections. God willing, Turkey will acquire a more effective administrative model,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş posted on his official Twitter account on Jan. 16, following a late-night session in parliament where the last article of the constitutional amendment package was approved. 

With the approval of the last six articles in a 16-hour session, lawmakers completed the first round of the charter sessions, paving the way for a possible referendum after seven days of marathon debates. 

A referendum is expected as the articles have received an average of 343 votes, which exceeds the threshold of 330 to bring the charter to a referendum. 

After casting his last vote in the last session, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim approached the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) group and shook hands with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli. A majority of the 39-seat MHP has supported the 316-seat AKP in the General Assembly to legislate the constitutional amendments. 

It was Bahçeli who initiated the constitutional amendment procedure with his comments on the necessity of a new constitution on Oct. 11, 2016. The prime minister also approached the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group and conveyed his good wishes. 

While the AKP-MHP block welcomed the finalization of the first round with applause, the CHP has already begun its “no” campaign for a possible referendum, as the party is preparing a protest campaign along with nongovernmental organizations that will include standing demonstrations for three days.  

According to the party’s campaign, the CHP is “against coups, against diktats, against the dictator, against mullahs, against the constitution which takes the sovereignty from the hands of the public and delivers it to the palace: we stand up.”

Referendum scheduled for late March, early April

The second round of debates will begin on Jan. 18. In the second round, the lawmakers will debate the motions which were already submitted to parliament in the first round. Lawmakers will subsequently cast their final votes for the constitutional amendment. 

The AKP aims to approve six items a day in the second round of the debates on the 18-article proposal and expects the whole proposal to be enacted by Jan. 21 at the latest.

While the law on the amendment of the constitution is slated to be submitted to the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 23-24, the date of the public vote will be determined according to the use of the 15-day legal period granted to Erdoğan to approve the law.

The constitutional amendment will be made on the first Sunday after the 60th day following the publication of the vote in the Official Gazette. As it is a likely scenario, the AKP plans to schedule the referendum on any Sunday between March 26 and April 16, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 16.