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Turkish parliament passes constitutional amendment again in disputed vote

[JURIST] Turkey's parliament [official website, in Turkish] Thursday passed for a second time a constitutional amendment allowing for direct election to the presidency, but complaints of balloting violations arose even before the vote finished. The main opposition party, the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website, in Turkish], says it may petition the Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] as early as tomorrow regarding the disagreement over voting procedures. The amendment was approved by 369 lawmakers in the 550-seat house, surpassing the 367 votes needed to force President Ahmet Necdet Sezer [official profile] to either approve the package or submit it to a referendum. Sezer vetoed [JURIST report] the amendment last week after it was passed by the parliament the first time [JURIST report]. The current dispute concerns whether all provisions in the package must receive 367 votes. One of the four articles in the amendment package only received 366 votes, which CHP argues defeats the package. The majority Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish; Wikipedia backgrounder] says that as long as the package receives between 330 and 366 votes, it must go to referendum. AFP has more.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] of the AKP called for the amendment [JURIST report] early this month, after the Constitutional Court voided a parliamentary presidential vote [JURIST report] for lack of a quorum. Opposition lawmakers refused to participate in voting because they feared the sole presidential candidate, Abdullah Gul [official website; BBC profile], would try to erode Turkey's secularist state structure. Gul withdrew his candidacy after a second vote boycott [JURIST report] by the opposition.

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