Panel agrees on two charter articles amid continued tension
AA photoThe Parliamentary Constitution Committee agreed on the first two items of a 21-article constitutional proposal at its seventh meeting on Dec. 26 amid fierce arguments between the ruling and opposition parties over the procedure for panel discussions.
The two items regulating Articles 9 and 75 of the current constitution were accepted by the constitutional panel convened by the chair, Mustafa Şentop, late on Dec. 26.
The first item calls for the number of parliamentary members in parliament to be increased from 550 to 600.
The second added the term “impartial” to an article regulating the exercise of the power of the judiciary.
“The judiciary is exercised by independent and impartial courts on behalf of the Turkish nation,” the new constitutional proposal states.
The panel is scheduled to argue on a third item on Dec. 27 that would reduce the minimum age to be elected from 25 to 18.
Items discussed amid brawl
The commission commenced discussion on the first item after Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers submitted a proposal to accelerate the process by ending discussion on the entire bill and passing on to a discussion on the items on Dec. 24.
The chair’s decision to accept the offer stirred a debate between lawmakers which continued during the discussions on Dec. 26.
Criticizing the chair for ending the discussion without letting opposition MPs express their views, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chair Engin Altay said the AKP lawmakers were “unduly hasty.”
“It is an illegitimate, unlawful and unjust approach,” Altay said.
People’s Democracy Party (HDP) lawmaker Meral Danış Beştaş said the constitutional amendment “legitimized criminality.”
“It is an imposition. This was prepared even before it was submitted to the commission. What is being done is a legalization of crime. It is insanity,” Beştaş said.
Şentop proceeded to vote in the midst of the brawl and declared that the first item had been accepted.
The commission is scheduled to argue on the 21-article amendment offer through the week, while the offer is expected to be submitted to the parliament early next month.
The package has attracted great opposition from the CHP and HDP, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the AKP compose a majority of the parliamentary seats.