Turkey’s parliament gave preliminary assent to sweeping constitutional amendments that would abolish the office of the prime minister and see Turkey’s president gain executive powers. The vote will be put to a nationwide referendum in the spring.
The amendments were passed 339 to 149. The vote required a three-fifths majority (330) before the legislation could be put to a referendum. [If the legislation had garnered a two-thirds (367), it would have become law straight away.]
One lawmaker handcuffed herself to the microphone in a last-ditch attempt to stop the bill from passing.
Prime Minister Binali Yilderim said the changes would create a “sole power that would be strong.”
In total, the parliament approved 18 separate amendments to the constitution which must now be ratified in a referendum slated to take place in April. However the country is still under a state of emergency since the attempted coup in mid-July.
“There is no possibility under a state of emergency for an effective public debate in the media about the changes that are being brought in,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey Director of Human Rights Watch told AFP.
The official website of the presidency of Turkey lists President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s current powers powers here.
The new powers acquired by the presidency would be as follows:
- The sole power to appoint and fire ministers
- Retain ties with a political party
- The power to determine whether or not to impose a state of emergency
- The power to issue decrees (i.e. executive orders)
- Increasing number of lawmakers from 550 to 600.
- Introduction of substitute lawmakers.
The amendments will greatly increase the powers of Turkey’s Islamist President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, who was previously served for a decade as Turkey’s prime minister.