Turkey: 'Spring referendum on new constitution likely'
Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu says under new constitution, president will be member of political party
Turkey’s forestry and water affairs minister said Thursday that the process for a new constitution process will likely culminate with a referendum next spring.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk in Ankara, Eroglu said: "Our prime minister has met with Mr. Devlet Bahceli and consequently the resolution [on a new constitution] has been conveyed to him,” referring to the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has pledged to work with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) on a new constitution.
“It will be referred to parliament. We presume it will win over 330 votes ... So it will be referred to the nation. I think that it can end with a referendum next spring."
MHP leader Bahceli confirmed Tuesday that he had received a new draft constitution from AK Party officials.
The MHP will work on the draft constitution, first within the party and later in an inter-party commission. The party aims to submit the agreed items to the full parliament "as soon as possible," according to Bahceli.
The new constitutional draft needs 330 votes to pave the way for a referendum.
The AK Party, with 316 seats, and the MHP, with 40, both back the bill.
If the draft constitution gets more than 367 votes, it can pass directly without the need for a referendum. But the AK Party has announced it will take the new constitution to a referendum even if none is needed.
Eroglu said that under the new constitution, the president would be a member of a political party. "This condition of being a party member is essential,” he argued.
Unlike the U.S. presidential system, Eroglu said there could be more than one vice president in the new system, and the ministers would not be deputies. "The ministers would be appointed from outside [parliament]. Parliament, deputies would pass the laws. The system will proceed on the separation of the executive and legislative powers."
He added, "There will be no prime ministry post in the new system."
The AK Party has sought to introduce a presidential system to replace the parliamentary model since Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first president by popular vote in August 2014.