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Turkish ruling party pushes for early constitutional referendum

[JURIST] Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish; Wikipedia backgrounder] Friday announced plans to hold a national referendum to decide whether the country's president will be elected by popular vote instead of by parliament. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] said the referendum could be held on July 22, the same day as parliamentary elections, despite objections from the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) [party website, in Turkish]. The AKP proposal, to be debated in parliament this weekend, concomitantly seeks to reduce the length of time required before a referendum can be held from 120 days to 45 days.

Last week Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed [JURIST report] a constitutional amendment approved by parliament that would have allowed Turks to vote for their president directly. Parliament passed the amendment for a second time [JURIST report] on Thursday. By Turkish law, Sezer must now either sign the reform into law or call the expected national referendum. Reuters has more.


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