ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily News
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers invade the rostrum in Parliament during a session in February on internal regulations. Daily News Photo
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is busy implementing substantial changes that it had earlier left on the backburner, touching the untouchables in the 10th year of their government. The latest novelty they came up with is the amendment of the law pertaining to eight years of uninterrupted education, itself a product of the “postmodern coup” of Feb. 28, 1997. The proposal to implement 12 years of education in three separate tiers came into force last week. Imam hatip schools that had been shut down were reopened; elective courses on the Quran and the Prophet’s life entered the curriculum. The AKP had also enacted legal arrangements before to grant female students with headscarves the opportunity to attend universities while also abolishing the age limit required to take Quran courses.
What is to follow next? Which outstanding subject will now enter their sights? The AKP always used to take a step back whenever it ran up against stiff opposition, but this time around, it conceded nothing.
It crossed a psychological threshold by passing the education reform bill despite the fierce resistance mounted by the opposition, and by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in particular. With its newly bolstered confidence, the AKP is also rolling up its sleeves to bring about certain momentous changes that look set to anger the opposition quite a bit; amendments to internal regulations that had led to so much agitation and infighting in Parliament top the list.
I openly asked the AKP’s group deputy president, Mustafa Elitaş, as to what would follow next? “Amendments to internal regulations, of course. The opposition is blocking Parliament. They tie our hands down. We are going to reintroduce the proposal on internal regulations,” he responded without flinching.
Amending the internal regulations is a highly contentious issue. The AKP had attempted this during the last term without any success. They gave it another push this term, managing to put it on Parliament’s agenda on February 2012 but still failing to make it law. The opposition rose up in fury, claiming their time to speak was being limited and that their voices were being muffled. A noisy melee ensued with the participation of hundreds of deputies, the CHP
invaded the rostrum, and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lent its backing. When the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also joined the fray and mounted stiff opposition, the AKP, isolated and encircled, was forced to shelve the proposal.
Amendments to the internal regulations led to tumultuous sessions in the past as well. One such amendment made its way into Parliament in 2001 during the reign of a coalition government between the Democratic Left Party (DSP), the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the MHP. Fevzi Şıhanlıoğlu, the Şanlıurfa deputy of the True Path Party (DYP), died due to a heart attack when he was punched during the ensuing commotion.
This tragic experience is now ingrained in people’s memories, but the AKP government would like to bring about the changes to internal regulations with the same sense of ease and psychological triumph that is emanating from their successful legislation of the education reform bill.
The AKP will reintroduce the issue of internal regulations in the coming months and attempt to push it through the General Assembly. It seems they will not seek a compromise this time around either. The prevalent mood in the government’s backrooms indicates the proposal will pass without any alteration.
What will the AKP do this time if the CHP, the MHP and the BDP, who are all opposed to the changes, once more resort to such methods as invading the rostrum? “We will never allow the rostrum to be invaded,” Elitaş said with unshakable determination.
Animated, lively sessions await Parliament in the coming period, it seems.
TOURING POLITICAL LEADERS FOR THE NEW CONSTITUTION
Parliament’s Constitutional Reconciliation Commission will begin penning down the contents of the new constitution starting May 1. Cemil Çiçek, the head of the commission, and other members from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) feel uneasy about the tense mood outside. They know the difficulty of “reconciliation” in a contentious atmosphere. For that reason, they decided to pay a visit to all the leaders. The commission will pay separate visits to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, CHP
leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, MHP leader Devlet Bahçei and BDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş. They will request that the political leaders “calm things down, make frequent affirmations regarding the need for a new constitution, take responsibility for the process and refrain from polemical statements regarding the contents of the constitution in particular.” These meetings are of crucial significance, as the smooth functioning of the commission depends on the results of these visits.
A COMMISSION FOR EACH COUP
A new initiative to examine Turkey’s past coups has kicked off following a directive issued by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) group will submit a motion in the coming days to separately examine each of Turkey’s four coups. Four distinct research commissions will then be established if the AKP enters the motion as such, with one commission for the May 27, 1960, coup, one for the March 12, 1971, memorandum, one for the Sept. 12, 1980, coup and one for the Feb. 28 “postmodern coup” of 1997. The commission will then examine the coups in question and compile their findings in a report. Many retired commanders will testify, and victims will be called to speak to the commission. While judicial proceedings are underway against the Sept. 12 coup and the postmodern coup, the AKP also wants to “politically” convict Turkey’s coups and their architects in Parliament through these commissions.