Turkish parliament backs stripping immunity from politicians
Turkey's parliament on Tuesday voted through a government-backed bill that will see some politicians stripped of their immunity from prosecution.
The bill was passed by a majority of 348 out of 550 parliamentarians, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported on Tuesday evening.
The initial vote signals support for the bill, which will go to a second, binding vote after a further day of debates on Friday.
However, sources supportive of Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggested that some AKP MPs could vote against the bill in a surprise move.
The result of Tuesday night's ballot fell just short of the 367 votes - two-thirds of the total seats - needed to change the constitution without a referendum.
The vote means that, if MPs back the bill after the second ballot on Friday, it will go to a national referendum.
MPs are currently immune from prosecution, but prosecutors are able to file “dossiers” against them, which can come into effect after they leave parliament (or if immunity is lifted). If passed, the move will apply only for MPs with current dossiers against them and will not apply to MPs in the future.
The bill is seen by some as targeting members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP). Presient Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the party's 59 parliamentarians of links to the PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist group.
Speaking to The Guardian on Tuesday morning, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas warned that young Kurds could "lose all hope in democratic politics" if they see pro-Kurdish MPs jailed for opinions expressed in the country's parliament.
Erdogan promised last November, just after his party regained its parliamentary majority in a snap election, to prioritise changing the country's constitution.
Suraj Sharma contributed reporting to this story.