Turkey has approved a reform bill sponsored by the AK Party, opening the way for referendum critics will block
The government, which won parliamentary backing for the reforms on May 7, has said it wants to hold a referendum in July on legal changes which opponents see as a threat to the Muslim country’s secular order.
“The president has sent the law that changes some articles of the constitution … to the prime minister’s office to be presented to a public referendum,” said a statement on the presidential website. Gul’s approval had been widely expected.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said it would ask the Constitutional Court to annul the reforms which it says would cement the AK Party’s power, rejecting government arguments that they are needed to meet EU entry requirements.
The reforms overhaul the Constitutional Court and an official body regulating judges and prosecutors. They also make the army answerable to civilian courts. However, parliament rejected an article making it harder to ban political parties.
The current constitution was drafted after a 1980 army coup and there is widespread agreement that reform is needed.
Parliamentary support for the bill was less than the two-thirds majority needed to pass it into law, meaning final approval will depend on the result of a referendum. The AK Party is confident it will secure enough support in the public vote.
The secular-minded Constitutional Court has struck down several key AK Party reforms in the past.