AKP delivers its draft constitution to MHP

AKP delivers its draft constitution to MHP

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
AKP delivers its draft constitution to MHP

AA photo

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officially delivered its draft for a new constitution to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Nov. 15, after the leaders of both parties agreed on the principles of changes that will pave the way for the adoption of a presidential system.

“The AKP’s constitutional draft text has been handed into us officially,” MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said in an address to his party group in parliament. 

“We have decided to introduce a constitutional amendment limited to a governance system change to parliament,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım later said in a meeting with his party lawmakers on Nov. 15. 

The sum total of AKP and MHP lawmakers, which have 316 and 40 seats at parliament respectively, are enough to take a constitutional amendment to a referendum, which will be held two months after if the General Assembly votes in favor. 

According to information gathered by daily Hürriyet, the AKP’s draft text is composed of 29 articles, including provisional ones, which include the title of the system as “presidency” with powers granted to the head of state turning him into an executive president. 

It stipulates a one-chamber parliament and preserves the country’s unitary system. The president will be elected for a maximum two terms of five years. It also introduces the option of two vice presidents, instead of one, in the event that the MHP favors this. 

According to the draft, the president will be able to appoint ministers from outside parliament and issue decree laws on issues related to the executive. But these decrees will not be on issues concerning fundamental rights and freedoms. Although the system would change, presidential elections will be held in 2019 as planned. Until then the president will use the powers granted to him through provisional articles. 

The president will be able to appoint half of the members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), as well as university rectors. Parliament will be able to launch an investigation into the president with the votes of 367 MPs but will require at least 413 votes to send him to the Supreme Court for prosecution.

The draft does not contain any reinstating of capital punishment but sources say it may be introduced as a separate constitutional change. 

‘MHP will scrutinize the text’

MHP head Bahçeli said his party will “scrutinize the text in detail,” stressing that a commission composed of the two parties will finalize the draft “in line with his party’s sensitivities.” MHP Afyon deputy Mehmet Parsak has been delegated to study the draft, Bahçeli added.

“As a party, we are examining the text in a very meticulous, careful and detailed manner. We are outlining the articles that we approve or do not approve … We will conclude our work to submit the constitutional changes as soon as possible,” he said.

The draft includes a detailed amendment focused on solving the immediate problems in Turkish politics, Bahçeli said. He recalled his previous criticism of the AKP for imposing a de facto presidential system by decree laws, which led him to propose bringing the constitutional draft to a public vote.

“We are hoping to introduce the amendments we have agreed on in the Constitutional Committee to a parliamentary vote as soon as possible,” the MHP leader added.

Both AKP and MHP call on CHP to join them

Meanwhile, the leaders of both the AKP and the MHP called on the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to join their efforts to change the constitution. 

“Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu says his doors are open on constitutional amendments. We have never kept the doors closed. You still have time, you can board the train before it departs. Let’s altogether do this job,” Yıldırım said. 

“Let’s sit and negotiate. If you don’t agree, you can say ‘no.’ But you cannot say ‘no’ in a democracy without engaging in dialogue. We are determined to walk on this path,” he added. 

Bahçeli also called on the CHP leader to “not be reluctant.” 

“If their doors are open to the prime minister, if they say they would like to see the draft, then let’s come together and eliminate the de facto predicaments,” he said.