ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey's Parliament met through the night, Friday into Saturday, and passed a controversial new bill that gives the government greater control over the judiciary — but not before a brawl on the floor of the assembly left one lawmaker with a broken finger and another with a bloodied nose.
The raucous scene was emblematic of the messy turn Turkish politics has taken recently, as a corruption investigation targeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle has thrust the government into crisis.
Critics charged that the judicial bill is the latest attempt by Erdogan to survive the corruption investigation. Experts say the legislation, which still needs to be signed by the president and is sure to face challenges in the constitutional court, would eviscerate any measure of a separation of powers in the Turkish political system.
Erdogan has blamed the investigation on supporters of the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers have, over the years, built up deep influence in Turkey's police and judiciary.
The prime minister has referred to Gulen's followers as a "parallel state" that has engineered the graft inquiry to overthrow the government. Erdogan has reassigned thousands of police officers and hundreds of prosecutors to lesser posts.
Amid the purges, Turkey's justice system has become gridlocked. The corruption inquiry has played out through a series of leaked telephone conversations, apparently obtained through wiretaps, that have shown up on social media.
The judicial bill, critics say, is Erdogan's boldest step yet in trying to secure control over the state because it would effectively give the government control of the Higher Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which makes judicial appointments.
"The government should consider its citizens' rights to fair justice, as well as their own, and should do the right thing," said Metin Feyzioglu, the chairman of the Turkish bar associations. "We have to break the cycle in which the judiciary functions as a revenge mechanism."
Erdogan and other officials in his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party have argued that the new rules on the judiciary are necessary to root out the influence of Gulen supporters within the state.
The bill has also raised serious concerns among officials in the European Union, which Turkey has been seeking to join.