Turkish MPs debate presidential reforms

Turkish MPs debate presidential reforms

Turkey’s parliament will continue to debate constitutional changes proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday. The

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Turkey’s parliament will continue to debate constitutional changes proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday. The main opposition Republican Party has criticised the reforms, saying they would encourage authoritarianism by abolishing the prime ministry and expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Significant political opposition to the changes suggests the bill won’t be enacted directly by parliament. But with backing from the AKP, which holds 316 seats, as well as the 40-seat Nationalist Movement Party, it is likely to receive the required 330 votes to take the changes to a referendum.

Turks are divided on whether to support the changes. In the third quarter of 2016, Turkey’s economy contracted for the first time in seven years, which may reduce Erdogan’s already strained public support. However, a strong nationalist response to terrorist attacks and an attempted coup may prove more decisive in drumming up support for the ‘yes’ campaign.