Turkish PM Says No Bargaining On New Constitution

Turkey's ruling AKP party wants to push ahead and make changes to the country's constitution. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL, March 6  – There will be no bargaining over a new constitution for Turkey and the ruling AK Party will seek the 330 votes it needs in parliament to put the matter to a referendum, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying on Sunday.

In an interview with broadcaster A Haber, Davutoglu said his AK Party would have the full support of all of its 317 deputies for a new charter and that it would seek additional opposition backing to win the 330 votes needed for a referendum.

A cross-party commission charged with drafting a new constitution collapsed last month after the main opposition pulled out over attempts by the AKP to change Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

Senior AKP officials told Reuters last week that the party was working on its own proposals despite the opposition resistance, plans which could hand President Tayyip Erdogan powers to draft legislation directly and pick ministers.

The AKP has broad support for overhauling the constitution, which dates back to an era of military coups and has been repeatedly revised. But there are wide divergences over what a new charter should look like.

Opposition parties want it to focus primarily on protecting minority rights and democratic freedoms, and fear an executive presidency would consolidate too much power in the hands of one man.

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