Deputy PM suggests ‘open vote,’ opposition hopes amendment expanding Erdoğan’s powers will fail

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A general view of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

As Parliament started debates on Monday on a constitutional amendment that will change the system of governance in Turkey, the deputy prime minister argued that open voting in Parliament is not against the constitution, while the opposition hopes the suggested changes will fail in a secret vote.

Unlike other sessions in Parliament, TBMM TV, which broadcasts solely from the national assembly, will not air debates on the amendment, which will expand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told a pro-government TV station on Monday that although a secret vote is expected to take place, open voting would not be against the constitution. According to Canikli, 316 deputies have already made their votes clear by signing a proposal for a switch to an executive presidency, which would allow the president to dissolve Parliament.

Canikli argued that there is nothing secret about the way deputies will vote on the changes proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Five deputies from the opposition MHP have declared their “no” vote for the suggested changes.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) strongly opposes the changes amid pressure from an already weakened civil society in Turkey. CHP Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel said they are hoping the proposal will be dropped in Parliament due to the lack of the required 330 votes.

Ankara lawyers to call deputies to reject switch to one-man rule 

Meanwhile, the Ankara Bar Association placed full-page advertisements in newspapers calling on deputies to oppose the constitutional amendment in order to not “transfer the people’s sovereignty to the president.”

HDP’s Demirtaş: Voting illegitimate while 11 deputies are behind bars

The arrested co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, submitted a petition to the legislature questioning the legitimacy of the debates and vote since 11 deputies are currently in prison.

Earlier on Monday, police teams used tear gas, pressurized water and plastic bullets on a group of people from civil society organizations and bar associations who had gathered in front of Parliament to protest the efforts to switch to an executive presidency in Turkey.

Representatives from civil society organizations and bar associations were preparing to make a statement to the press in front of the Dikmen gate of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara when police intervened to prevent them from making the statement.

When the group tried to approach the Parliament building, police used tear gas, pressured water and plastic bullets on them.

Some deputies from the CHP who came to the area to extend their support to the protestors were also affected by the police intervention.

While the police intervention was not later reported on by any TV stations, Halk TV did broadcast the intervention live.

The AKP government has proposed a presidential system in Turkey to replace the country’s current parliamentary system.

Critics say the switch to an executive presidential system, under which current President Erdoğan will have more power, will create one-man rule in the country.

Campaign urging MHP deputies to veto the proposal under way

Meanwhile, a campaign to telephone MHP deputies and pressure them to veto the transition to an executive presidency has been launched on social media. Nationalist opposition news portal Haber Erk published the phone numbers of MHP deputies and asked people to call them. Citizens began to circulate similar messages on social media with the hope that dissidents within the MHP can stop the proposal that would officially turn Turkey into a strong one-man rule.

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