MHP backs government on charter bid
AA photoThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said it will submit its own constitutional draft imposing a shift to a presidential system to parliament as soon as possible after the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) again said such a bid should be taken to the public.
“I have confidence in the Turkish public. If the AKP brings the constitutional charter to a parliamentary vote and is sensitive to our stance, I believe a healthy and reasonable outcome will be achieved,” MHP head Devlet Bahçeli told his party’s group on Oct. 18. “If the conditions are met, we will have no hesitation in consulting our mighty public about any solution to a problem or a puzzle.”
Bahçeli’s statement came a day after he met Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in a face-to-face meeting where the two men discussed efforts to renew the constitution that would also introduce a presidential system. With its 316 seats in parliament, the AKP is at least 14 votes short of introducing a constitutional amendment, as any charter change requires the support of at least 330 votes in order to take it to a referendum. The MHP has 40 seats in parliament and its support for the AKP will suffice to take any amendment to a public vote.
“The MHP supports the continuity of the parliamentary system by revising and reforming current problems,” Bahçeli said, noting that his comments stemmed from criticism of current political circumstances where “the administration violates the law and the constitution. Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] is practicing a de facto presidential system.”
“Either the president stops insisting on forcing the de facto presidential system, which for us is the right choice, or the methods to legalize the de facto situation should be sought,” he added.
AKP to submit proposal as soon as possible
Only minutes after Bahçeli’s address to his group, Yıldırım announced that his party “will submit its proposal, which includes the presidential system and constitutional changes, to parliament. The decision will be left to the noble parliament.”
Echoing Bahçeli’s comments on the need to legalize the “de facto presidential system,” Yıldırım said Erdoğan was elected through a popular vote. “What we want is to eliminate the disorder which this situation created in the system. In order to do that, the recent situation should be compatible with the constitution.”
Main opposition blasts AKP-MHP bid
The AKP-MHP dialogue over constitutional changes has drawn the reaction of the main opposition leader who recalled that all four parties that put their signature on a joint declaration in the aftermath of the coup attempt endorsed the strengthening of the parliamentary system.
“The declaration refers to the ‘democratic parliamentary system,’ meaning that parliament protects this system. Now, I want to ask the leaders: Do you deny that your signature is on this declaration? If you deny your signature and say this system can now be removed, it means you’re under the control of external forces,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in an address to his lawmakers on Oct. 18.
He also slammed the government for seeking “regime change by using the state of emergency.”