Turkey's long-awaited constitutional amendment package, which will allow for the shifting of the country's parliamentary system to a presidential one, will be submitted to Parliament on Saturday.
Two major political parties: the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) held discussions on the new constitution over the last two months and the new package will be submitted to Parliament after AK Party Chairman Binali Yıldırım and MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli announced they reached an agreement on the constitutional amendments.
AK Party Secretary General Abdulhamit Gül and MHP deputy Mehmet Parsak will reveal the details of the amendment package today in a joint press conference. Commenting on the submission of the constitutional amendments to Parliament, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that after the legislation process is complete, he will review the amendments without delay, asserting: "[The proposal] will first be submitted to the respective commission and then will be discussed at the General Assembly. I believe the constitutional change package is comprised of approximately 20 articles that will be sent to my office after evaluation. I will review it without delay and let the Turkish people, the ultimate decision makers, have the final say," Erdoğan said on Friday.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım previously announced that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has finalized its legislative amendment proposal, saying that it was set to be presented in Parliament on Saturday. "We are continuing our efforts toward systemic change with aims to save our country from the military coup threat and eliminate instability in Turkish politics. We have prepared our limited constitutional amendment proposal. As of tomorrow [Saturday], we will submit our constitutional amendment changes to Parliament," Prime Minister Yıldırım said. Underlining that the AK Party's proposed "presidential system" will bring an end to the coalition era in Turkey, Yıldırım added that "We will live in a country with an enhanced democracy and a strong parliament with the presidential system."
According to sources, the package consist of 20 articles that regulate switching to the presidential system. If the amendment package is brought to a referendum and accepted by the public, the new system will abolish the Prime Ministry and the president will form his Cabinet. The Turkish-style presidential system will be based on effective separation of powers, along with an extensive checks and balances mechanism. In the new system, Parliament will be responsible for overseeing the president's actions, to a certain extent. In order to establish accountability in the system, the constitutional proposal allows for the establishment of a Parliamentary Investigative Commission to control the president's actions when necessary. The proposed change of governance would become effective in 2019, although the current head of state will still be able to exercise some provisional authorities. The package also changes the number of deputies in Parliament from 550 to 600 and the age requirement for deputy selection will be reduced from 25 to 18 years of age.
The amendment package is expected to be discussed by the Parliamentary Constitution Commission next week and after the completion of commission works, the proposal will presented at the General Assembly in Parliament. The General Assembly first will discuss and vote on each article and thereafter the whole constitutional amendment package will go to a parliamentary vote. Each of these voting stages requires 330 minimum parliamentary votes. Currently, the AK Party holds 316 seats in parliament and needs the 40-seat MHP's support to take the constitutional amendments to a referendum, which is expected to take place in spring of 2017.
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