AKP to curb opposition’s Parliament speech time

AKP to curb opposition’s Parliament speech time

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP to curb opposition’s Parliament speech time

CHP deputy Kamer Genç (L) was forcefully pushed from the rostrum by AKP deputy Salim Uslu on Nov 10 after the CHP deputy refused to heed warnings from the Parliament speaker to end a speech.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has drafted controversial amendments to parliamentary rules, seen as an attempt to curb the speaking time opposition lawmakers have in the General Assembly.

The bill, submitted to Parliament by the AKP’s five deputy group chairs with the stated aim of speeding up the legislative process, proposes also the banning of lawmakers from bringing banners, placards and “disturbing” objects to the General Assembly.

“What the AKP understands from democracy is the despotism of the majority. That’s unacceptable. The government, which has left Parliament out with a series of legislative decrees, now wants to usurp what is left of the opposition’s speaking time,” Akif Hamzaçebi of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said at the weekend.

He said the draft demonstrated that the AKP was insincere in its stated commitment to draw up a new constitution for Turkey in compromise with the opposition.

Under the draft, the currently unconstrained time for debates on verbal questions that lawmakers submit to the government is reduced to two hours at most. Parties would be allowed to have only one representative to speak for five minutes on a given proposal submitted to the General Assembly’s agenda, down from four lawmakers who have a speaking time of 10 minutes each under the existing rules.

In discussions on procedural disputes, parties would be represented by two instead of four deputies and their speaking time would be reduced from 10 to five minutes.

The brief remarks lawmakers are allowed to make from their benches would be limited to one minute, while the number of proposals each deputy can submit on each article of a draft law at the related commission would be reduced to one.

The draft also proposes extending the General Assembly’s routine sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays by two hours, from 2 to 8 p.m.

The proposal that would ban lawmakers from bringing in “disturbing” objects is seen as aimed primarily at CHP deputy Kamer Genç, who has been carrying a lantern in Parliament for months in a symbolic reminder of the embezzlement scandal at the Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse) charity, in which the AKP is accused of being involved.