New Turkey Constitution Gives Total Control to President

New Turkey Constitution Gives Total Control to PresidentNew Turkey Constitution Gives Total Control to President

The Turkish Parliament on Sunday passed in a first reading a controversial bill bolstering the powers of the presidency under Recep Tayyip Erdogan that critics claim will lead to a one-man rule.

The parliament approved the two final sections of the 18-article new constitution after a marathon week of debating that began on January 9 and included sessions that often lasted late into the night, AFP reported.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mustered the necessary 330 or more votes—a three-fifths majority—needed for the adoption of the constitutional change and sending it to a referendum for final approval.

The constitution plan will now go to a second reading in the Ankara parliament expected to start on Wednesday where the 18 articles will again be debated one by one.

The proposed changes, which will create an executive presidency for the first time in modern Turkey, are controversial and far-reaching.

The president will have the power to appoint and fire ministers, while the post of prime minister will be abolished for the first time in Turkey’s history.

With Turkey already under a state of emergency for almost six months following the July 15 failed coup, the changes will also widen the scope of conditions in which the president can declare an emergency.

Parliamentary elections and presidential ballots will be held simultaneously, with the draft giving November 3, 2019, as the poll date.

The changes are opposed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). The third largest party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is boycotting the vote, while a dozen HDP MPs, including the two co-leaders, are behind bars.

Opponents have accused Erdogan of marching towards authoritarian rule and seeking total control in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup aimed at ousting him from power.

“This is a regime change. They should not try to cheat the people,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, according to CNN Turk.

“This structure will expose Turkey to much deeper problems,” he added.

The current constitution, adopted in 1982 in the wake of the 1980 military coup, guarantees independence of the courts from an “organ, authority and office.”

But the approved changes will allow the president to directly intervene in the judiciary, which Erdogan has accused of being influenced by supporters of his ally-turned-foe, the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for the July 15 putsch.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints