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Turkish lawmakers close debate with brawl, again

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 01:20

Members of Turkey's parliament come to blows over proposals to grant their president greater executive powers. Matthew Larotonda reports.

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Loose words turning into flying fists in Turkey's parliament. Lawmakers debating an upcoming constitutional referendum that could grant President Tayyip Erdogan greatly increased powers. Closing the session by pounding a gavel? More like pounding each other instead. If successful, it would allow Erdogan and his successors to appoint and dismiss ministers, take back leadership of his ruling party, and govern until 2029. He says it's needed to prevent a return to the deadlock of fragile coalition governments of the past. But opposition parties call it authoritarian and an overreach of his office. The lawmakers were choosing which specific reforms to send to a planned referendum, but the fight broke out when a member of the opposition tried filming the vote with her phone. The legislators have quite a history of fisticuffs. This fight broke out last year between members of Erdogan's party and pro-Kurdish lawmakers. This one over the wars in Iraq and Syria. This? Another debate over executive powers. And that's just a small sampling. The referendum is expected to go to vote this spring. A battle for legislators... figuratively and literally.

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Turkish lawmakers close debate with brawl, again

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 01:20