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February 02
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working to strengthen his conservative electoral base ahead of next summer's elections with constitutional amendments that would expand the right to wear hijabs in public and ban same-sex marriage, Bloomberg writes.

The move is designed primarily as a political staging, as the ruling coalition, led by Erdogan's AKP party, does not have enough votes to pass the amendments. And there is no practical need to pass them.

Even if the amendments do get the votes necessary for parliamentary adoption, they will only cement the status quo in the constitution. Turkish civil law does not specifically prohibit same-sex marriage, but defines marriage as an agreement between a man and a woman. Moreover, more than a decade ago all restrictions on the wearing of the hijab in schools and public institutions were lifted.

The ruling alliance needs two-thirds of the 600 MPs to amend the constitution, or 360 votes to put the proposal to a referendum. Erdoğan's party and its partners hold 335 seats, making further steps impossible without opposition support.

Members of the opposition bloc are now mulling over whether they should reject the draft altogether or vote only for the hijab amendment, which has the most support among the parties. Erdoğan is likely to use any hesitation over the two controversial issues to attack his rivals during his campaign.

The idea of turning existing laws into a constitution first emerged in October after opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu promised to introduce a bill that would legislate the freedom to wear the hijab. Erdoğan took the idea further by turning it into a constitutional amendment and adding an article banning same-sex marriage.

Ahead of next year's important elections, Erdoğan is bolstering his conservative reputation in an attempt to get the attention of voters. With inflation at its highest level in 24 years and public discontent with the economy still growing, his conservative-nationalist alliance is doing its best to defeat a fractured opposition bloc.

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