Punch-up in Turkish parliament over voting on executive presidency

Fractious Turkish MPs engaged in fist fights in parliament over night over the debate on constitutional amendments to change the parliamentary system to an executive presidency.

MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to blows with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members, shoving each other around as they crowded onto the assembly podium.

Members of the CHP were objecting to AKP voters casting votes without entering the cubicles set up to facilitate secret voting. Meanwhile, AKP members attempted to grab the mobile phone belonging to a member of the CHP filming the scene.

Despite the fracas, the third, fourth and fifth articles out of the 18 proposed in the bill were approved in the parliamentary session, which continued until early on Thursday. Debate was scheduled to resume this afternoon.

The bill needs the support of at least 330 MPs in the 550-seat assembly to go to a referendum, expected to be held in spring. The AKP has 316 deputies eligible to vote and the MHP 39.

The three articles were passed with between 341 and 343 votes in favour.


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