Parliament approves first amended article of constitution

Turkish lawmakers cast their votes during a debate for a proposal for change in the constitution on January 10, 2017 at the Turkish parliament in Ankara. Turkey's parliament on January 9, 2017 began debating a controversial new draft constitution aimed at expanding the powers of the presidency under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The new constitution, expected to be put to a referendum by the spring, would replace the basic law drawn up after Turkey's 1980 military coup. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Turkish Parliament on Tuesday night approved the first article of a constitutional amendment package that will bring an executive presidency and end the parliamentary system of governance in the country.

The amended article, passed with 347 votes in favor and 132 against, added the words “and impartial” as well as “independent” to Article 9 of the existing constitution, in reference to the judiciary.

There has been strong opposition to the constitutional amendment package over fears of one-man rule in Turkey as it grants extended powers to the president.

Among the objections to the changes, the former president of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay), Professor Sami Selçuk, wrote in an op-ed that a constitutional amendment package that is currently under debate in Parliament clearly aims to concentrate power in the person of the president and eliminate the separation of powers.

Penning an article for the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday, veteran jurist Selçuk said the proposed changes are even worse than the already antidemocratic 1982 Constitution, which was drafted under a military junta.

According to Selçuk, anyone who is literate can easily understand that the constitutional amendment would entrust all power to the president, close off the path to checks and balances and bring a concentration of powers in one person.

With the proposed changes submitted to Parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the president will be vested with the power to dissolve Parliament.

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