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Turkish president blocks parliament bid for early constitutional referendum

[JURIST] Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer [BBC profile] vetoed a bill Monday that sought to hold a national referendum on whether the president should be elected by popular vote, on the grounds that it conflicted with the Turkish constitution [text]. The proposed national referendum, approved in parliament and supported [JURIST report] by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC program] and Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish; Wikipedia backgrounder], was to be held the same day as parliamentary elections on July 22. The secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website, in Turkish] has requested that the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] overturn a constitutional amendment [JURIST report] adopted by parliament in May that will allow Turks to vote for their president directly. The high court is expected to rule on the challenge Tuesday.

In May, Sezer vetoed [JURIST report] the amendment, but the parliament overrode his veto by passing the amendment for a second time [JURIST report]. The AKP began its push for direct presidential elections [JURIST report] after Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul [official website] dropped out of the presidential race. Opposition lawmakers had refused to participate in a scheduled parliamentary vote, and in April the Constitutional Court annulled [JURIST report] the first round of the presidential balloting [JURIST report] because a two-thirds quorum of legislators did not participate in the vote as required by the constitution. AP has more.


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