Turkish parliament strengthens Erdogan’s grip on power as latest round of constitutional reforms approved

Three articles approved overnight set out legislature’s supervisory role, enable president to retain ties with a political party and allow head of state to issue decrees

Gulsen Solaker, Daren Butler Monday 16 January 2017

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses village administrators in Ankara, Turkey Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Service/AP

 

Turkey’s parliament approved key articles of a constitutional reform overnight that would allow the president to be a member of a political party and issue decrees, bringing a step closer the executive presidency sought by Tayyip Erdogan.

The ruling AK Party, backed by the nationalist MHP, is pushing through the legislation that President Erdogan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.

The three articles approved overnight set out parliament’s supervisory role, enable the president to retain ties with a political party and detail the president’s executive powers as head of state, including the power to issue decrees.

Their approval is a positive sign for the AKP, although the changes will need to pass in two more rounds of voting before the constitutional package as a whole is put to a referendum, expected in the spring.

The main opposition CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP, the second largest opposition party, fear these changes will fuel authoritarianism.

The previous night, lawmakers from the AKP and CHP came to blows as tempers boiled over in debate on the bill, after which a ruling AK Party deputy warned elections would be held if the bill was not passed.

A deputy from the main opposition CHP party responded late on Thursday with a call for such a move.

“Today instead of seeking such a regime change, we as the CHP give full support to an early election decision. We say bring it on,” the CHP’s Ozgur Ozel told the general assembly.

Under the planned changes, a president can be elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. The plans envisage presidential and general elections being held in 2019.

– INDEPENDENT

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