Turkish PM puts new constitution at heart of election manifesto

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2015 6:21 AM

By Ercan Gurses

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday a new constitution should be the next parliament's priority, moving the country toward a presidential system, a key goal of President Tayyip Erdogan.

Announcing his AK Party's manifesto for a June 7 general election, Davutoglu said: "We see the restructuring of the administrative system toward a presidential system as necessary to clear up the mess over lines of responsibility and to genuinely restore accountability."

A new constitution has long been a priority for Erdogan, meant to replace a text born of a 1980 coup which, despite numerous revisions, still bears the stamp of its military authors.

Erdogan, who is no longer head of the party he founded but continues to dominate the political scene, has said he wants the AKP to win 400 parliamentary seats, which would comfortably allow the government to change the constitution unopposed.

The AK Party would need at least 330 seats to change the constitution via a referendum and 367 seats to do so without the need for a popular vote.

Polls suggest it could struggle. Five polling firms have predicted the AKP's share of the vote will drop in June, potentially to a level that could force it to seek coalition partners.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Robin Pomeroy)