Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
The Turkish parliament approved key points in the constitutional reform that will give more powers to the head of state. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), supported by the National Action Party (MHP), made the legislative changes in a first session. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes that those changes will lead to a more stable government which is needed to prevent the return of the “fragile” coalition governments of the past.
The changes that were approved last night by at least 341 lawmakers, settle the supervisory functions of the parliament, the executive powers of the president, and the possibility that the president can maintain links with a particular political group. Under the planned changes, the president can be elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. It is envisaged that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 2019.
Approval of the changes is a positive sign for the Justice and Development Party, although changes will have to go through two more rounds of voting before the whole package of constitutional reforms is put through a referendum. The two largest opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (PDP) fear that these changes will strengthen authoritarianism in the country. Voters are expected to have their say in this case in the spring. For that to happen, amendments must receive the approval of at least 330 of the 550 seats in the assembly in the next rounds. AKP has 316 deputies to cast their vote on this issue, and the MHP has 39.
Earlier on Thursday, deputies came to blows, as tensions around the debate on constitutional amendments escalated. The ruling party warned that they would insist on holding new elections if the amendments are not accepted. An MP from the main opposition party responded to the provocation with a call for a move in this direction. “Instead of looking for a regime change, we from the Republican People’s Party give full support for the decision which will lead to early elections” stated Ozgur Ozel.