Turkey's Erdogan 'powers bill' referendum down to parliament vote

Turkey's Erdogan 'powers bill' referendum down to parliament vote
A constitutional reform bill which would grant new powers to Turkey's president is heading to parliament for a vote. If approved, a referendum will be held as early as spring.
2 min read
30 December, 2016
Turkey's president could be granted new powers under constitutional reform [Anadolu]

Turkey's President Tayyip Recep Erdogan is a step closer to being granted new powers after the constitution reform bill heads to a parliament vote.

If the draft bill is voted through, Turkey will hold a public referendum on the changes as early as spring, a move that would enable Erdogan to turn a ceremonial post into a more powerful platform.

The constitution commission completed approval of the draft in a marathon 17-hour session over nine days that finished early on Friday, state-run Anadolu agency reported.

Debate on the bill is expected to begin in the parliament's main assembly in January.

Opponents say the constitutional proposals could lead towards authoritarian rule in Turkey.

Government officials however argue a fully presidential system is needed to legalise what has become a de-facto situation.

The proposed law gives executive powers to the president and vice presidents while abolishing the post of prime minister.

It would also lower the age of candidacy for parliament from 25 to 18, and increase the number of parliamentarians from 550 to 600 in accordance with the country's growing population, Anadolu reported.

It also proposes to hold general and presidential elections every five years, instead of the current four.

The draft bill also states that a Turkish president should be at least 40-years old, directly elected by the people, and limited to two terms.

According to the draft, the next parliamentarian and presidential elections will take place on 3 November, 2019, meaning Erdogan could hold power until 2029.

The president would also not be required to leave his or her political party once elected unlike in the previous constitution.

Any constitutional change needs the support of at least 330 MPs in the 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdogan more than a decade ago, wants the backing of the nationalist MHP opposition to see the plan through parliament.