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Erdogan’s Presidential Proposal Awaits Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s Prime Minister and the leader of ruling AK Party Binali Yildirim makes a speech following the approval of a constitutional reform bill at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Ankara- After being backed by the Turkish parliament on Saturday morning, the presidential plan of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to strengthen the powers of the presidency has now paved its way for a referendum expected next spring.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a new Metro line in Istanbul’s Pendik district, Erdogan called on his supporters to support the constitutional change in the upcoming referendum.

“I believe that you will walk to the future by working day and night in this campaign for the referendum,” the president said.

On Saturday, the constitutional reform bill was approved with 339 votes in the 550-member assembly. The legislation needed at least 330 deputies before going to a public vote.

If passed, the new amendment would open the doors in front of Erdogan to stay in office until 2029, as presidential and parliamentary elections will be held together in Nov. 2019, when Erdogan will be eligible to run for two new presidential elections, each of a five-year term.

The proposal is expected to be presented to Erdogan on Monday or Tuesday for approval in a period not exceeding 15 days. A national referendum should then be held during a period of 60 days, following the publication of the proposal in the official gazette.

Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said the president would play a leading role during the next phase to explain the new constriction and the presidential regime to the Turkish people.

The reform would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament. The reform will also increase the number of lawmakers in the Parliament from 550 to 600 deputies and will lower the voting age from 25 to 18.

On Saturday, Erdogan also renewed the question of reintroducing the death penalty.

“I believe this issue (death penalty) will be debated in parliament again after the referendum period. Once it passes parliament, let me say again that I will approve it,” Erdogan said.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said after the voting that his party would fight the changes in their referendum campaign.