Parliament to vote last 2 articles of constitutional amendment proposal

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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

After approving five articles on Saturday alone, the Turkish Parliament will on Sunday debate the last two articles of a proposed constitutional amendment that will officially bring an executive presidential system to Turkey amid significant concerns of one-man rule.

Parliament debated the contentious articles for more than 16 hours on Saturday amid the opposition of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the remaining members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the legislature. Currently, 11 HDP deputies are imprisoned.

The 18-article package will cripple the rights of Parliament and expand the powers of the president to an unprecedented level. 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.

On Friday Parliament had passed three articles of the constitutional amendment package, one of which significantly expands the powers of the president.

Articles 7,8 and 9 were approved on Friday with the “yes” votes cast by the ruling AKP and the opposition MHP.

Article 8 will allow the president to enjoy expanded executive power, turning the presidency into the most powerful institution in the country, as well as the ability to independently promulgate laws, in the process bypassing Parliament. Article 7 will allow the president to maintain official affiliation with a political party.

Several fights had taken place during the voting after main opposition CHP deputies objected to ruling AKP deputies showing their ballots to party officials, which is against parliamentary bylaws.

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.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed opposition parties that object to the constitutional reform package seeking to introduce a presidential system in Turkey, saying on Thursday that they should “know their place.”

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 the constitutional amendment package 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.

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