Constitutional adjustment package approved in Parliament

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

The adjustment laws package concerning the amendments to the Constitution that contains changes to be applied prior to the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections was accepted in a parliamentary session Monday.

The 10-article adjustment laws package was expected to be approved in Parliament as Daily Sabah went to print yesterday. The Parliamentary Election Law, the Political Parties Law and the Presidential Election Law were regulated along with others.

Earlier this week, the Constitutional Commission convened under the chairmanship of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Mustafa Şentop to discuss the 10-article adjustment laws motion.

The approved bill will make changes in the related laws, such as election laws and political party laws. Along with regulations concerning elections and the duties of the president, the title of president will also change.

A person cannot be nominated as both a presidential and parliamentary candidate because the executive authority will belong to the president and the legislative authority will belong to Parliament, depending on the adoption of the principle of separation in the new presidential governing system.

If a candidate is elected as president, he or she will lose their seat in Parliament. In the presidential election, political parties that do not have a group in Parliament will be able to nominate a candidate with the signatures of at least 100,000 voters or at least 5 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the most recent parliamentary election.

In the new system, the president will have executive power and the title of "head of state," representing Turkey, the unity of the Turkish people and assuring the implementation of the Constitution and the harmonious execution of state bodies. The president is given the right to issue a presidential decree. The establishment and shutting down of the ministries, their duties and authority as well as organizational structure will be subject to presidential decree. Vice presidents and ministers can be appointed and removed by the president.

Following the regulations, political parties will also be able to compete in the elections with a joint candidate and establish an alliance with another party. All political parties planning to form alliances will have to, however, notify the Supreme Election Board (YSK) at least seven days in advance after the electoral schedule starts. It reportedly takes the YSK 60 days to fully prepare for elections. So far, only the AK Party and the MHP have announced an alliance, which has been named the "People's Alliance."

In the event that no presidential candidate collects an absolute majority of votes on June 24, a second round of elections will be held on the second-following Sunday, July 8. The top two candidates will enter the second round of the election.

If one of the candidates entitled to participate in the second round does not participate in the election, the second ballot will be made by substituting the vacant nomination according to the first ballot order. The substitution must be made by 5 p.m. on the day following the announcement of the provisional results.

The new changes also require a package of reforms and adjustment laws to be implemented. Some of these changes must pass through Parliament ahead of the snap elections. For example, the removal of the prime minister's role and the establishment of the presidential post in line with the new system will need to be executed ahead of June 24. However, the remaining adjustment laws needed to institutionalize the changes for the new system will also need to pass in Parliament after the elections.

Additionally, the number of deputies will increase from 550 to 600 and parliamentary elections will be held on the same day as the presidential election every five years instead of every four. The eligible candidacy age for the deputies will be reduced from 25 to 18.

The bill will also change the method of voting for Turkish nationals living abroad. Previously, Turkish nationals living abroad were only able to cast their votes by appointment. Instead of appointments, voters living abroad are now allowed to vote on any day predetermined by the YSK. Citizens abroad can vote up to three days before election day in Turkey. There are also regulations relating to the presidential post. If the presidential post is vacated for any reason and the general election was to be held in one year or less, a presidential election will be held on the first Sunday 60 days after the post was vacated alongside general elections for Parliament.

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