CNN’s Columnist Kara Fox make analysis on Turkey’s controversial reforms.
Turkish lawmakers begin a second round of voting Wednesday on controversial reforms that would hand sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
THE 18 ARTICLE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS PACKAGE…
The 18-article constitutional reform package — put forward by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) — would turn Turkey’s parliamentary system into a presidential one, effectively consolidating the power of three legislative bodies into one executive branch with the president as its head.
The reforms would also abolish the role of prime minister while granting authority to the president to issue law, declare states of emergency, dismiss parliament and to appoint ministers, public officials and half of the senior judges. It’s known as the “power bill.”
THE BILL WOULD ALSO ALLOW ERDOGAN WHO SERVED…
The bill would also allow Erdogan — who served as prime minister from 2002 to 2014 before becoming president — to extend his term in office until at least 2029.
Parliament can change the constitution directly if the bill gets 367 yes votes — a two-thirds majority — in the 550-seat assembly. But if the bill only gets between 330 and 366 votes, it must be put to the public in a referendum.
The AKP holds 317 seats and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has 39. Both parties support the changes — so if all of their members vote yes, they will have 356 votes in favor.
As of Sunday, the AKP had secured more than 330 votes required for the reform package to progress to the next round.
CHP AND HDP ARE AGAINST THE BILL
Turkey’s main opposition parties — the Republican People’s party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — are against the bill, and the atmosphere in parliament is tense.
Last week, during a debate on one measure that would end “parliament’s authorization to inspect ministers and the Cabinet,” a fist-fight broke out, leaving one senior AKP lawmaker with a broken nose, according to state news agency Anadolu.
After the brawl, the measure was passed, leading the way for further reforms later in the week.
Political uncertainty looms
If the bill is passed with the current amount of support it has in Parliament, it will be put to a referendum, likely in April. If the outcome of the referendum is also a yes, it could potentially catapult Turkey into snap elections.
The role of president is largely ceremonial under the current constitution. In order to become president in the new system, Erdogan would have to be reelected after the constitutional changes kick in.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says elections will be held in 2019 as scheduled.
Erdogan’s rise to power
Opponents fear the reforms will give too much power to Erdogan.
Since an attempted coup in July, Erdogan has led an intense crackdown on government critics and those with alleged ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the coup attempt.
Hundreds of military officers have been dismissed, and about 11,000 teachers were suspended. Public servants have been sacked and many media organizations shut down.
How did Turkey get to this point? Here’s a look back at some of the key moments that defined Erdogan’s political rise and that helped to lay the groundwork for this historic vote.
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