AKP revises charter as committee agrees on three more articles

AKP revises charter as committee agrees on three more articles

AKP revises charter as committee agrees on three more articles

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set to remove articles that would usher in the position of substitute parliamentarian, as well as conditions requiring presidential candidates to be born as Turkish citizens from proposed constitutional amendments.

At the same time, the commission also agreed on three more items on the 21-article charter.

The AKP is planning to retract the item which sets the conditions for substitute parliamentarians from the amendment offer after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli met to discuss possible revisions to the charter, daily Hürriyet reported on Dec. 27.

The meeting on revisions came after Yıldırım confirmed AKP lawmakers’ concerns about that article on the grounds that it could lead to serious altercations or even killings.

The AKP is also planning to change the article which states that a president “must be Turkish from birth,” replacing it with the principle of “being a citizen of the Republic of Turkey,” which is currently among the conditions for the election of the president.

Provisions regarding the appointment of ministers from outside parliament will be preserved but the way of starting the referral will be changed. Ministers who are appointed by the president will begin their duties by taking an oath in parliament, but the condition has been retracted in the offer.

Another revision regards the number of members constituting the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The number of members was slated to be reduced from 22 to 12, but the proposed revision will set the number at 14. Also, the conditions of appointment will be revised.

AKP lawmaker Abdulhamit Gül and MHP lawmaker Mehmet Parsak are scheduled to meet again to work on revisions amid continuing debates on the draft in a parliamentary constitutional committee.

Three more articles agreed amid fierce altercations

The panel continued to debate the items in the 21-article proposal while agreeing on three items on the list which will reduce the minimum age to be elected to 18, while also setting election dates for the presidential and general elections, as well as parliament’s duty and authority in the midst of the opposition’s fierce arguments regarding violations of procedure.

“We are not at the theater here. The opposition’s right to speak is blocked. You are talking about the national will, but you do not allow parliamentarians to speak here. We have seen this movie before. You are planning to pass the articles in a rush by creating turmoil. You are violating bylaws,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chair Levent Gök said after the articles were passed following a proposal by AKP members.

The procedure previously stirred debate when AKP lawmakers submitted a proposal to accelerate the meeting by arguing that the items had been discussed extensively enough to proceed on Dec. 24. 

AKP lawmakers have submitted the same proposal for each item in the panel, with criticism from the CHP and People’s Democracy Party (HDP) sometimes prompting brawls between ruling and opposition lawmakers.

“I haven’t seen the proposal and the voting or participated in the voting. Why such a rush? We should return to the discussions on the items and allow commission members to talk,” HDP lawmaker Mithat Sancar said.
The opposition lawmakers’ proposals were not approved by the chair.

Three articles approved, one dismissed

The commission agreed to Articles 3, 4 and 6 while dismissing Article 5 on substitute parliamentarians.

According to Article 3, the minimum age to be elected to the parliament will be reduced from 25 to 18.

According to Article 4, the constitution’s “election period of parliament” will be changed to “the election period of the parliament and the president.”

The elections for the president and MPs will take place on the same day every five years. If the necessary majority cannot be achieved in the first round of presidential elections, a second round of voting will be held.
According to Article 6, the authorities and duties of the parliament are set as following:

“Legislate a law, amend or remove it; discuss and accept the budget and final account law proposals; decide on the printing of money and declaration of war; approve the ratification of international treaties; decide on declarations of general and special amnesties with a three-fifth majority vote in parliament; use and perform the powers envisaged in other constitutional articles.”

The constitutional committee is set to discuss the remaining items on Dec. 28.