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ANKARA WHISPERS > Scenarios on Turkey's new constitution

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The tense political environment has not yet been reflected on the Parliament Constitutional Conciliation Commission. AA photo

The tense political environment has not yet been reflected on the Parliament Constitutional Conciliation Commission. AA photo

Göksel Bozkurt Göksel Bozkurt goksel.bozkurt@hurriyet.com.tr

The tense political environment has not yet been reflected in Parliament‘s Constitutional Conciliation Commission. However, this does not mean it will not be reflected in the future. As the leaders get tenser, the heart of the Commission beats faster. As one member has said: the fire that surrounds the leaders may one day fall into the Commission.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has seen this quite early, and he is trying to prevent it by being proactive. For this purpose, the Commission is planning a tour of the leaders in coming days. The timing of the visits is important because the continuously strained political environment is slowly poisoning the process of writing of the new constitution. As the poison spreads, new scenarios are being whispered in the corridors that different agreements are being sought instead of the four-party consensus.

The Commission will visit party leaders and ask for strong support for the new constitution. The Commission is planning to demand from the leaders that the harsh style be softened and that an environment of constructive dialogue be expanded. The Commission members are also searching for an answer to this question: How can a new constitution be written in an environment where everyone is fighting? My impression is that unless the general style moderates, the writing of the new constitution will be in jeopardy.

I had a conversation with a member of the commission. He made this sharp comment: “I have been visiting places in Anatolia. The man on the street is demanding a new constitution. If the nation is demanding that, how could political parties explain to people the failure? More importantly, how will they be able to digest continuing with the present constitution, a product of Sept. 12, one that is too tight for this nation? Whoever blocks the writing of the new constitution, will not be able to explain that to people...”

Several criticisms coming from party headquarters’ and from party leaders, saying: “They are looking for ways to leave the table...,” effectively destroy the enthusiasm of the commission. If this cannot be overcome through the tour of the leaders then it is only a matter of time before these fights escalate. Even now, every clause is turning into a “test of sincerity.” 

Is the atmosphere being strained intentionally? The latest scenario whispered in the corridors implies this. According to this scenario, the four parties will not be able to reconcile anyway because of red lines going forward. For this reason, they want to escalate the tension and try to make the others leave the table. If there is no consensus, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will look for a dual agreement. Their fierce fight with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) shows that there can not be any consensus with them. Then it is the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that’s left. The recent nationalistic proclamations of the government put the AKP closer to the MHP. Mutual gestures have already begun, and it looks as if the search for an agreement between those two parties looks more likely than the others.

What if the AKP presidency insists and the MHP is not convinced? There is a scenario ready for that also. It is being said that the AKP will seek support from other parties at the level of individual deputies (especially from inside the MHP and from liberals of the CHP) and try itself to make a new civilian constitution in this way. The AKP has 326 seats. Any number above 330 is sufficient to take the constitution to a referendum. The AKP tested this for the constitutional amendment of 26 articles in 2010, and succeeded. 

It looks as if a “warm summer” is ahead for the new constitution.

Risk awaiting Parliament

The two years and one month prison sentence for the independent deputy from Van, Kemal Aktaş, who was elected with the support of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has been approved in the Supreme Court of Appeals. Since with this verdict Aktaş’s eligibility criteria have not been met, according to the constitution, his membership of Parliament will be revoked. For this to happen, the Justice Ministry has to send the verdict to Parliament.

According to what I have heard, Speaker of Parliament Cemil Çiçek will not hold the verdict and will send it to the general assembly to be read, and so Aktaş will no longer be a deputy. As the Parliament has yet to produce a solution on the issue of the deputies under arrest, the revoking of the membership of an elected name will have significant waves in the political arena.

Election window dressing for CHP

The countdown has started for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) 34th congress, at which the election of a leader is scheduled. Kılıçdaroğlu will change the front desk of his party entirely on July 14-15. The aim is to assign the staff that will carry the party into the local and general elections in 2015. 

Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to make radical changes to the 60-member party assembly, as well as introduce surprise new names to the party. Kılıçdaroğlu has started contacting several prominent names from the left, social democrat, center and even center-right spectrum to join the party assembly. 

An influential CHP member said: “There are such important and prominent names that it will be a big surprise for the public.” 

June/04/2012

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