News / Europe

Turkey Approves Constitutional Changes

Dorian Jones

The Turkish government has announced that about 60 percent of voters in Sunday referendum have approved a package of changes to the country's 30-year-old, military-era constitution.  The government says the reforms are important for Turkish democracy.  But opponents say the changes undermine the independence of the Turkey's judiciary.  

Thousands of supporters chanted "Turkey is proud of you," as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated the outcome of the referendum.  The size of the victory came as a surprise to many analysts because recent opinion surveys pointed to a vote that was too close to call.

Mr. Erdogan addressed his supporters on Sunday. "On the 12th of September, democracy has won," he said.  "The only people defeated were those who support coups.  Both those who said 'Yes' and those who said 'No' won today because democracy was advanced for everyone."

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Erdogan said the reforms were aimed to sever the country's links with its past, when Turkey was run by the military.

The 26 reforms include putting the military under the control of civilian courts.  Women and trade union rights will also be extended.

Under another provision, military leaders responsible for the 1980 coup would no longer have immunity from prosecution.

But critics of the reforms - including the country's two main opposition political parties - criticize changes to the judiciary, which they say will put the courts under the control of the government.

Under the changes, the constitutional court will increase from 11 to 17 judges, and the government will have a greater say in the appointment of senior judges and prosecutors.  Critics caution that the judiciary is one of the last checks to the ruling Justice and Developments Party's power, which enjoys a large majority in parliament.

Supporters of the government say the judiciary has been an undemocratic hindrance, and that the reforms will strengthen democracy.

The constitutional changes are also welcomed by the European Union.  Negotiations for Turkey to join the 27-member EU have made little progress since starting in 2005, with France and Germany both expressing opposition to Turkey's bid.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid