Erdogan May Seek Popular Mandate on New Constitution

Turkey’s ruling party may seek a referendum on its proposal for a new constitution if parliament fails to reach a consensus, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an address to his lawmakers.

Erdogan said he wants work on a new constitution finished by the end of March.

“If not, the AK Party will carry its proposal to the floor,” he said. The government would seek parliamentary backing for a popular vote and “take it to the nation,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as AK Party in Turkish, has 326 lawmakers in the 550-seat parliament and would need at least four more votes to take a bill to a referendum.

Erdogan said earlier this week that cooperation with another party was possible.

Erdogan’s party is also pushing for a draft law giving the president the power to issue decrees with the force of law, dissolve parliament, call new elections and decide whether to use military force.

Erdogan’s government has been trying to convince opposition parties to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential system which he argues would speed up asset sales.

Turks for the first time will elect next president in popular vote in August 2014.

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