The Parliamentary Constitutional Committee has continued its discussion of the 21-article amendment package that will allow the country to switch to a presidential system.
Even though the committee started its work last Tuesday, due to main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) efforts, it only started to discuss the article on Saturday, slowing down the process. The committee resumes its works today and is expected to finish discussions by the end of this week.
Moreover, intra-party sources in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said small revisions of the draft constitutional bill were likely. Accordingly, regulations about substitute parliamentarians might change. During the Central Executive Committee meeting last week, AK Party deputies expressed their concerns over articles that would usher in "substitute parliamentarians" and stipulate that a presidential candidate must be Turkish by birth. Thus, the relevant article will likely change as follows: "In the event of a vacancy in Parliament due to dismissal, the vacancy will be filled by lawmakers from the same party." Sources also indicated that the article that regulates the presidential candidate might the quorum for the prosecution of the president and ministers were also among the articles that might be up for revision.
The constitutional committee is expected to finish their work by the end of this week; then Parliament is expected to begin discussing the proposed articles in early January. According to current practices, the constitutional amendment must pass through the second stage in the General Assembly. Deputies will discuss the entirety of the proposal initially before discussing and voting on each item.
In the second stage, lawmakers will vote on each article and then vote for the entire package. Each of these voting stages requires a minimum of 330 parliamentary votes.
Currently, the AK Party holds 316 seats in Parliament and needs opponent MHP's support, which has 39 seats, to take the constitutional amendments to a referendum within 60 days. The referendum would take place next spring.
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