AKP, CHP at loggerheads over 2010 charter change
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily NewsA fresh debate has erupted at Turkey’s Constitution Conciliation Commission on whether amendments passed in a referendum last year should be reviewed or not.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has long argued that the 26 articles must be amended on grounds that the changes placed top judicial bodies under government control.
“We are making a new constitution from scratch. All articles except the first four have to be changed to ensure a free judiciary, especially the 26 amendments from last year,” the CHP’s Atilla Kart said Dec. 15.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP), however, has said the relevant provisions should remain untouched.
“The 26 articles of the current Constitution were approved by a popular vote last year during the Sept. 12 referendum. These articles should not be changed by parliamentary vote,” AKP deputy group chairman Mustafa Elitaş told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 15.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has previously been quoted as saying behind closed doors that last year’s amendments must not be touched, describing them as the AKP’s “red lines” for the new charter.
“Those articles were approved ... at the referendum. Amendments approved by popular vote must not be changed by parliament. The 26 articles must either remain the same, or be voted on by the public again,” Elitaş said.
Criticizing the AKP, Kart said the referendum had polarized the nation last year. “We want to make a charter on the basis of equality and conciliation. No fiats should be forced upon us during this process. The new constitution must not leave out anyone and must ensure the judiciary’s independence,” he said.
CHP is in favor of rewriting the entire charter, except the first four articles that define the basic characteristics of the Republic, Kart said. “Even if Parliament reaches a compromise, we can still go to the people for approval.”
The 26 amendments changed the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges, which deals with judicial appointments and disciplinary issues.