Categorized | Turkey

Turkey Moves to Expand Erdogan’s Powers, but Not Without Brawl

NOVANEWS
  • Lawmakers from ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP scuffle during a debate on the proposed constitutional changes at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara.
    Lawmakers from ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP scuffle during a debate on the proposed constitutional changes at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. | Photo: Reuters.
Despite the clashes, 3 articles of the 18-article bill were approved.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian exercise of power, especially in the last year, and his desire to expand these powers made some gains Thursday — but not without a physical brawl in parliament.

RELATED:  Turkey Detains 235 After Bombings as Erdogan Seeks More Power

Turkish lawmakers in parliament threw punches overnight as they debated a new constitutional reform package proposed last month that seeks to expand the powers of President Erdogan. The opposition CHP and pro-Kurdish HDP fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.

During the row, CHP deputies objected to the ruling AKP members — who are pushing the legislation — casting votes without entering the cabins set up to ease what was supposed to be a secret ballot. AKP lawmakers then tried to grab the cellphone of a CHP deputy that was filming the scene.

Despite the clashes, 3 articles from the 18-article bill were approved, including reducing the prime ministerial candidacy age from 25 to 18, increasing the parliament’s term from four to five years and changing regulations on the duties and authorities of the parliament.

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“The authority you permit today will bring about the end of this country. You (lawmakers) are trying to destroy yourself (parliament) without anyone seeing. We will not allow this,” Ozgur Ozel, CHP’s deputy chairperson, said early Thursday, as reported by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.

“We are taking the chair under our protection in order to ensure the fulfillment of the duty of defending the people’s chair, in order to tell the people and ensure that this article will be discussed in parliament, while looking into the eyes of the people. We are protecting the people’s chair from you,” Ozel added.

The entire reform package will enable Erdogan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and govern until 2029.

Debate surrounding the rest of the articles in the bill are scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon.

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