Turkey reform article rejected in blow to govt
By Pinar Aydinli
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's parliament rejected on Monday a constitutional amendment to make it harder to ban political parties, in a surprise blow to the government's plans to reform a charter written during military rule in the 1980s.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he would press on with the reforms, regardless of a setback that showed the package failed to gain full backing within his Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, otherwise called the AK Party.
"We will continue on our path. Withdrawing the constitutional draft is not on the agenda," Erdogan said after parliament rejected the amendment in a second round of voting.
The AK Party, which has roots in political Islam but denies ambitions to create an Islamic state, says the reforms are needed to bring Turkey closer to EU democratic norms.
The secularist opposition has accused the government of using judiciary reform as an excuse to install its supporters in the Constitutional Court, the ultimate guarantor of Turkey's secular constitution, and undermine secular principles.
The package also calls for making the secular army accountable to civilian courts.
Erdogan has said he will call a referendum if he fails to secure the necessary number of votes for the reform package.
Each of the 30 amendments require 367 votes out of 550 in the AK Party-controlled parliament to become law. The government can call a national referendum if it wins at least 330 votes. Continued...