AKP seeks consensus on 5-year term for deputies

AKP seeks consensus on 5-year term for deputies

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP seeks consensus on 5-year term for deputies

This file photo shows a polling station during the June 12, 2011, general elections. The ruling party wants to increase the parliametary term to five years from four.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to push for constitutional amendments restoring five-year parliamentary terms and moving local polls to either the summer or fall, while pledging to seek compromise with the opposition.

Senior AKP lawmaker Mustafa Elitaş told the Hürriyet Daily News that the party did not plan any unilateral move on the issue but would seek a compromise in talks at Parliament’s cross-party Constitution Conciliation Commission, which is tasked with drafting a new charter for Turkey.

The AKP’s intentions came under question when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed regret yesterday that they had agreed to an amendment to reduce parliamentary terms from five to four years as part of a constitutional reform package that had been approved in a referendum in 2007.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to China, Erdoğan said they were “deceived” by the now-defunct Motherland Party (ANAP), which had suggested the change. “I very much regret that. I wish we had left it at five years. He added, however, that the AKP would stick to the local elections calendar and would not seek to move the March 2014 polls forward “unless something extraordinary happens.”
In comments on Erdoğan’s remarks, Elitaş said the AKP had no immediate plans for amendments but could raise the issue at the constitution-making panel. “We could put forward a proposal after the commission begins writing the new charter. We need the contribution of the opposition. Such amendments would be the subject of the new constitution,” he told the Daily News.

No change in local vote

Elitaş said the AKP was fine with holding local elections every five years but would like to see the electioneering period ahead of the polls fall in the summer season. “When you hold elections in March, the election campaign falls in winter and this causes problems, particularly in the east and southeast. We could ensure that the campaigns fall in the summer season. This would also require a constitutional amendment and we could propose that, too, at the commission,” he said.

The Daily News has learned that the AKP is determined to secure the amendments by the end of 2012. If a compromise cannot be reached at the constitution-making panel, the AKP is expected to seek unilateral support from any of the opposition parties in 2013.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) quickly dismissed the suggestion. “The prime minister should not tinker with the elections. This discussion points at machinations and calculations within the AKP about who will seek what posts. We think that the four-year term is OK,” the MHP’s Oktay Vural said. k HDN