( AP ) - Turkey's pro-secular president blocked a measure Monday that would have allowed the Islamic-leaning government to hold a referendum on a new presidential voting system on the same day as general elections next month.
The government wants Turkey to elect the next president by popular vote, not in Parliament. Its presidential candidate was forced to drop his bid in May in a dispute that highlighted a rift between the government and the military-backed, secular establishment.
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who is often at odds with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, said he vetoed the bill Monday because it conflicted with the constitution.
Sezer's move delays any referendum until after the elections, assuming the new government would want to go ahead with it. Erdogan's ruling party currently has a comfortable majority in Parliament, but the referendum campaign could lose support if Erdogan's party wins fewer seats and becomes part of a ruling coalition.
It is not certain that Turkey would hold a referendum at all. The secular opposition has asked the Constitutional Court to cancel the government's proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for a direct vote for president.
The court, viewed as a guardian of Turkey's secular traditions, is expected to rule on the matter Tuesday.
Sezer objects to the election of a president by popular vote over concerns that the change could pit a president with a strong mandate against the prime minister, causing instability.
Erdogan sought to change the system after the secular opposition vetoed balloting in Parliament and blocked a process that would have elected the foreign minister - his ally - as president.