AKP gears up for constitutional package on ‘partisan president’ system
Nuray Babacan – ANKARA
AA photoTurkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been preparing to present a “mini constitutional package” to parliament which would enable Turkish presidents to be members of political parties, a move that is reportedly aimed at fastening the process of a constitutional change toward a presidential system in the country.
During President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with a group of AKP deputies last week over the extraordinary party congress which is expected to be held on May 22, the issue of introducing the package was agreed upon with the approval of the president, sources told daily Hürriyet.
The package, which was reportedly proposed by AKP parliamentary group deputy leader Nurettin Canikli, would consist of a maximum five articles concentrated on the “partisan president” model.
According to the draft package, the clause which states “the president’s ties with his/her party are cut” would be taken out from article 101 of the constitution. The package would also revise the article on the president’s leadership of the cabinet, an article that is currently in use for rare occasions.
Article 104 of the constitution, which says “the president is the head of the state,” will be suggested to change to “the president is the head of the state and the execution,” sources said.
Lastly, the draft will allow presidents to be the chairs of their parties and attend its meetings and rallies, while prime ministers would continue to be heads of the government.
The draft is expected to be presented to the parliamentary speaker’s office in June and will be brought to a referendum, sources said.
Canikli recently unveiled the party’s plans to switch to a “partisan president” system, suggesting their prospective proposal would find support not only from the nationalist opposition party, but also from other opposition parties.
“We did not have contact with a single party. But I believe, when this package is being discussed, many lawmakers other than AKP members will give a support [to it]. This package may not be ideal, but we see it as pragmatic. The environment in parliament did not leave any other choice. We did not give up on our new constitution idea either,” said Canikli.
“This doesn’t contain a political arrangement. It is not an AK Parti [AKP] issue. It is an arrangement which will be made to clarify the administration system of Turkey and eliminate probable risks of conflicts that may emerge in the future,” Canikli told reporters late on May 10.
“We want the presidential system with all its institutions to be set up in [a new] constitution. But this could be a model for the transition period,” Canikli said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli meanwhile briefly disclosed his position on the “partisan president” system, saying: “I say we give unconditional support in the fight against terrorism. Our criticisms other than that are reserved.”
Bahçeli was previously asked whether he meant he would also support a “partisan president” system, to which he clarified, “We are open to any kinds of suggestions, including legal and moral,” referring to a potential constitutional change in Turkey.