Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Turkish parliament on Monday facing police using pepper spray. The demonstrators were protesting against the introduction of an executive-style presidency for Turkey.
Meanwhile inside parliament, the CHP opposition party attempted to delay voting by filibustering.
If the amendment is passed and is successful in a referendum, it would mean that President Erdogan could serve a further two terms in office until 2029 and would see the role of prime minister abolished. The president would also be able to appoint and dismiss ministers.
Political observers fear that if the parliamentary system is changed to an executive presidency, it will herald a one-man rule regime similar to that of Russia, where voting is merely an exercise in rubber stamping the president’s edicts.
The Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP), Turkey main opposition is expected to vote overwhelmingly against the proposal, as are the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
As it stands, 12 members of the HDP including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksek are in prison. Demirtas has challenged the legitimacy of the parliament saying that “effectively, our voting rights have been usurped.”
Most observers believe that the bill will gain the 330 votes out of 550 required to put the new bill to referendum as the AKP has secured the support of the far-right, ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP).
Addtionally, voting will not be secret, which could put off potential defectors from the ruling AKP.
Work on the constitutional amendment package will continue for the rest of the month. It will not be plain sailing since a bitter struggle continues within the divided MHP. Five of its members have said they would not vote in favour of the changes.