Referendum for presidential system in Turkey may be held in spring, AKP deputy says

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AKP İstanbul deputy and the head of the parliamentary constitutional commission Mustafa Şentop

Turkey may hold a referendum for a change from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential system in spring 2017 after a new constitution is passed by Parliament, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İstanbul deputy Mustafa Şentop has said.

Speaking during a TV program on Thursday night, Şentop, who is head of the parliamentary Constitution Commission, said the plebiscite is possible only after ensuring the support of at least 330 deputies in Parliament on the text of a new constitution that may be presented to the legislature in a week or 10 days.

“Actually, the AK Party’s [abbreviation used by AKP supporters for their party] draft text [of a new constitution] is ready. The three main parties in Parliament studied it after July 15 [date of a coup attempt]. It will be ready in a week or 10 days. We have proposed a presidential system [for Turkey in the new constitution]. A semi-presidential system and a president with ties to a political party were other options.”

Expressing his appreciation to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli for his support for a switch to an executive presidency, Şentop said, “Bahçeli is legally and politically right.”

The AKP, which has 317 deputies in Parliament, needs the support of at least 13 more deputies from opposition parties. Currently, there are 133 deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), 59 from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), 40 deputies from the MHP and one independent in the Turkish Parliament.

Bahçeli has been under fire for indirectly supporting Erdoğan and the president’s policies since the June 7, 2015 elections, which had to be held again on Nov. 1, 2015 when no parties were able to form a coalition.

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