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[VIDEO] Turkish Parliament begins constitutional amendment debates amid ‘open vote’ brawls

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The Turkish Parliament began debate on a constitutional amendment that will expand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers, after 338 deputies voted in favor while 134 deputies voted against during a secret vote on Monday.

However, several brawls took place during the voting after main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies objected to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies when they showed their ballots to party officials, which is against the parliamentary bylaws.

Health Minister Recep Akdağ was also seen stamping yes on his vote outside the voting cabin. He went into brawl with CHP deputies when they asked him why he has shown his vote and didn’t go into the cabin which is against the bylaws. Akdağ, using a rude language, heard in a video taken by a CHP deputy saying “What is it to you? Why should I ask to you about it?”

Earlier on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said during an interview with a pro-government TV station 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 AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Five deputies from the opposition MHP have declared their “no” vote for the suggested changes.

Talking with CNNTürk in the parliament, CHP Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel said AKP administration has selected 30 deputies to check on other deputies and if anyone intends to get into voting cabin alone will be named as a member of FETO, a derogatory term and acronym for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP to refer to the Gülen movement which both Erdoğan and the government accuse its sympathizers within state institutions of plotting the failed coup attempt on July 15.

They have [reportedly] appointed 30 AKP officials [to check on other AKP officials]. 15 to stand on one side and other 15 to stand on another side of the voting cabins similar to the recent voting to revoke immunities of some deputies in the parliament. Their motto is ‘you are a FETO member, Bylock user if you get into the cabin. Come, show me your face and then vote’,” he said.

Bylock is a smart phone application that authorities believe is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement that caused the detention of thousands of civil servants, including police officers, military officials, judges, prosecutors, teachers since the failed coup.

Meanwhile, Kerem Altıparmak, a human rights lawyer and political science professor at Ankara University, wrote from his Twitter account that ‘secret voting’ is not a thing that deputies can abandon it. “It is a condition that validates the voting. Therefore, this voting is null and void,” he wrote.

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