[JURIST] The Turkish parliament Thursday passed a constitutional amendment changing the process to select the country's president. From this point the president will be elected by popular vote rather than chosen by legislators. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish; Wikipedia backgrounder] fought for the amendments after opposition lawmakers, fearing that the sole presidential candidate Abdullah Gul [official website] would try to implement more Islamic laws in Turkey's secularist state structure, refused to participate in the parliamentary selection process. The amendment also shortens the presidential term from seven to five years, allows presidents to serve multiple terms, and mandates that general elections be held every four years, instead of the current five-year requirement.
Gul ended his parliamentary candidacy earlier this week when opposition lawmakers refused to participate in a second parliamentary vote [JURIST report]. The first round of presidential balloting [JURIST report], held late last month, was annulled [JURIST report] by the country's Constitutional Court because a two-thirds quorum of legislators did not participate in the vote as required by the constitution. Gul has not said if he might run in a general presidential election. AP has more.