Final round of voting on Turkey's constitutional reforms begins

Each of the 18 articles will first be voted on separately, only to be followed by a vote on the complete constitutional reforms bill which looks to empower the president.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish Parliament convenes to debate the proposed constitutional changes during first round of voting in Ankara, Turkey, January 12, 2017.

Updated Jan 19, 2017

The second and final round of voting for Turkey's constitutional reform package which will transfer more powers to the president began on Wednesday. Voting continued into the early hours of Thursday as the first seven of 18 articles of the constitutional reforms bill passed, each with over 340 votes. 

After almost three weeks parliamentary debate, the lawmakers are voting on each of the 18 articles as well as the whole reforms package for one final time. 

The content of the articles is not going to be discussed and no speeches will be given as was done in the first round of voting. Only offers for changes to the articles will be debated.

The first article of the constitutional reforms bill passed with 345 votes and remaining five passed with 342 votes each. The seventh article was approved by 340 votes.

Article three which reduces the age of deputies or parliamentarians to 18 was rejected by 137 deputies. The fourth article faced 138 rejections. This amendment changes the electoral term of the parliament and president to five years.

The fifth amendment article which changes the duties of the parliament received 140 rejection votes.

The sixth article of the constitutional reforms proposal received 138 rejections, three empty ballots and two invalid votes.

A referendum on the proposed sweeping changes to Turkey’s constitution will likely take place at the beginning of April, according to Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus.  

The Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) struck an agreement on the constitutional changes. This alliance will likely help them carry the bill to a referendum.

Constitutional change, and in particular moving to a presidential system, has been on the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former prime minister and Justice and Development Party leader was elected Turkey's president in August 2014.

That election was the first time popular vote directly chose a Turkish president.

In the current parliamentary model, Turkish people vote for 550 members of parliament. The government is formed by a minimum number of 276 lawmakers.

In the proposed presidential system, the electorate would vote for a person to form a government independently of parliament, with no need for a vote of confidence.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly