AKP, MHP agree on constitutional amendment draft

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) shakes hands with Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli (L) following a meeting at Cankaya Palace in Ankara, to find a deal on a new constitution as desired by the Turkish president. / AFP PHOTO

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have reached agreement on a constitutional amendment that seeks to introduce an executive presidency in Turkey.

The draft text is expected to be brought to Parliament’s agenda on Friday night or Saturday.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli held a meeting on Dec. 5 in order to eliminate disagreements over the constitutional amendment.

The AKP lacks a qualitative majority for directly amending the constitution but has the opportunity to take it to referendum if 330 lawmakers vote “yes” on it. The AKP needs an additional 14 votes to reach 330. The MHP has 40 seats in Parliament.

The amendment package must be taken to a referendum within 60 days following the vote in Parliament.

In October, Bahçeli sparked a debate over the introduction of an executive presidency when he said there was a de facto situation in Turkey concerning its system of governance and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was already acting like an executive president even though his post is largely ceremonial. Bahçeli said the situation needed to be resolved.

Bahçeli’s remarks were interpreted as supporting a switch to an executive presidency, and AKP government officials have said they will bring a proposal for a change to an executive presidency to Parliament soon and present it in a referendum in April.

Erdoğan is a strong supporter of an executive presidency.

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