Turkey Parliament passes presidential system

Referendum preparations will be underway once Erdogan, whose current post is officially ceremonial, approves the bill in 15 days.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Parliament of Turkey on Saturday approved a constitutional bill to change the country’s system of governance from the current parliamentary one to a presidency granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strong executive powers.

If accepted in an anticipated referendum, Erdogan will have authority to issue decrees, form a cabinet, dissolve the parliament, declare a state of emergency, and appoint top bureaucratic and military officials.

Referendum preparations will be underway once Erdogan, whose current post is officially ceremonial, approves the bill in 15 days.

Lawmakers passed the entire 18-article package during the second round of voting after last week’s ballot, paving the way for a referendum in the upcoming months.

Of the 550-seat National Assembly, 339 voted yes to the plan exceeding the 330 ballots needed for a referendum, and 142 rejected it, said the Kurdistan24 Bureau in Ankara.

Meanwhile, 11 Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members could not contribute their vote because they were in prison, including the party’s Co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

Demirtas uttered the phrase “we will not make you president,” a slogan during his election campaigns in 2015.

HDP members present at the Parliament read out their jailed colleagues’ names in protest when the Deputy Speaker Aysenur Bahcekapili asked if there were MPs who had not cast their votes, reported the private-owned Dogan news agency.

The opposition had vehemently decried the changes which they see appealing to Erdogan’s authoritarian ambitions that could further polarize a country divided by ethnic, sectarian, and ideological lines.

Scenes of scuffles between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers occurred as the state TV aired parts of the voting process.

“We did not change the Constitution today. We proposed a change,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, thanking the Parliament.

“It is the precious Turkish nation that will change the Constitution,” he added in his speech as the HDP and CHP lawmakers staged a walk-out.

CHP described the move as intending to erase the legacy of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The leader of the Ataturk-founded CHP Kemal Kilicdaroglu said his country could not “handle this regime change.”

“The Parliament has betrayed its history; our nation will certainly correct this mistake,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters after a meeting with his party’s group.

AKP’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) welcomed the outcome, as its leader Devlet Bahceli said it was now up to the people to decide.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany