AKP to boost local power

AKP to boost local power

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP to boost local power

Ömer Çelik

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing to present a far-reaching proposal that strengthens the power of local administrations when Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission meets again on Jan. 21.

All four parties are expected to introduce their proposals on “administrative structure and public services,” which is an issue that the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) attaches high importance to, as it wants local administrations to gain more power and autonomy.

The AKP’s representatives on the commission gathered Jan. 17 at the AKP headquarters for a meeting chaired by AKP deputy chair Ömer Çelik in order to draft their proposal on the issue.

The proposal outlines the transfer of some central government authority to local administrations. Although provincial governors will still be appointed by the government, instead of being elected, necessary arrangements will be made so that all public services except health and education will be the responsibility of municipalities. Municipalities will also be strengthened economically through an increase in their budgets, according to the proposal. However, the central administration will still supervise the appropriateness of local administrations’ practices regarding all services.

The BDP has long sought the devolution of many responsibilities, including financial and administrative ones. It is also insistent that Turkey lift its reservations on the Council of Europe’s Charter of Local Self-Government.

During its meetings on Jan. 17 and 18, the commission debated articles concerning the general administration of elections. Since the AKP’s presidential system proposal also applies to these articles, they were drafted with the agreement of the three opposition parties. Accordingly, they agreed that elections for Parliament should be held every four years.

Either Parliament or the president – under the conditions outlined within the Constitution – will be able to decide on the holding of by-elections. In such a case, the elections will be held within 90 days after the related decision is made.

If the holding of new elections is not possible because of war, Parliament may decide to defer elections for a year with an absolute majority, or two-thirds, of the votes. Currently, it is possible to defer elections with a simple majority.

By-elections can be held only after at least 18 months have passed following the most recent general elections. At the moment, this period is 30 months.