AKP considers referendum option for new Constitution

AKP considers referendum option for new Constitution

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP considers referendum option for new Constitution

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek (R) meets with Peace and Democracy Party co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş (L) and Gültan Kışanak as a part of his tour of party leaders to revive the charter process. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The panel drafting a new charter has agreed on a hectic schedule to finalize its task quickly, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to wait only three months to push for a constitutional referendum.

Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission agreed on a new, hectic working schedule for the new year at its first meeting of 2013 on Jan. 2. According to the fresh agreement, the commission will work every weekday. Two separate sub-commissions have been formed to write the constitutional articles. The first writing commission is to renegotiate the 48 constitutional articles that have been written with red lines and reservations from the four parties in the section of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The panel has debated 71 constitutional articles so far and reached consensus on 23 articles. The other writing commission will debate the remaining articles of the Constitution starting from the legislative and executive sections.

April ‘likely’ deadline

Although Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek declined to set a new deadline for the work of the commission, April is likely to be the new deadline with three months for the commission to write the new Constitution.

The April deadline was voiced by the AKP’s Mehmet Ali Şahin during the Jan. 2 meeting of the commission. The ruling party is considering the option of taking the constitutional articles that the commission cannot agree upon to a referendum at the end of this period. According to the AKP’s back-up plan, the ruling party would introduce their own constitutional proposal to Parliament if their original plan fails. The AKP needs 367 votes in Parliament to adopt its own constitutional proposal. To take any constitutional change to referendum 330 seats are needed. The AKP has 326 parliamentary seats at the moment.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which earlier called for the definite withdrawal of the AKP’s presidential system proposal, softened its stance. Accordingly, debates on the executive section of the Constitution will be based on the parliamentary system in line with the three opposition parties’ preference. Nonetheless, the AKP’s presidential system proposal will be drafted in parentheses, meaning the reservations of the other parties will be noted.