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Turkey: Legislature Approves Amendments to Constitution

(May 12, 2010) The Grand National Assembly (Turkey's parliament) approved a set of amendments to the Turkish Constitution on May 7, 2010. The changes, proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party, include a revamping of the Constitutional Court, major restructuring of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, and new restrictions on the power of military courts. (Hilary Stemple, Turkish Parliament Approves Constitutional Reforms, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, May 7, 2010, available at
; Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Anayasasının Bazı Maddelerinde Değişiklik Yapilmasi Hakkinda Kanun [Text of the 26 amendments in Turkish], Law No. 5982, May 7, 2010, Grand National Assembly of Turkey website, available at

Although the reform package was approved, it did not receive the two-thirds majority vote in favor needed for immediate enactment. However, it did receive enough votes for a nationwide referendum. If such a referendum is not blocked, as opposition parties have indicated they will try to do by lodging an appeal with the Constitutional Court, it might take place before the end of July. An appeal against a referendum can only be brought on the basis of Grand National Assembly support in the form of 110 signatures secured from its 550 members. (Stemple, supra.)

The amendments' supporters claim “they are necessary in order for Turkey to meet the democratic and human rights standards required for admission to the European Union,” while opponents argue that “the reforms are meant to consolidate power and to bring the traditionally secular judiciary and military under control of the government.” Moreover, in late March, Hasan Gerceker, President of Turkey's Supreme Court, had stated that the proposed changes posed a threat to the country's separation of powers and judicial independence. (Id.; see also Wendy Zeldin, Turkey: Controversial Amendments to Constitution Proposed by Ruling Party, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Mar. 29, 2010, available at