All parties should join new charter efforts, says Turkish parliament speaker
The participation of all political parties in the Turkish parliament in a debate regarding a new constitution will be the best way of handling the issues, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on Feb. 3.
“It would be right to discuss a new constitution, and for this, not only according to arithmetic calculation [of the parliament] but all parties in the parliament should be involved in this debate,” Şentop said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Türk.
Recalling that many articles of the constitution entered into force in 1982 after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, Şentop said that the constitution carried the traces of the period when it was first drafted in various articles.
Pointing out that a reconciliation commission was formed after the 2011 elections and that he represented the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in this commission, Şentop said that full agreement was reached on the basis of provisions for about 60 articles.
At the time, his party made a call to pass at least the articles that were agreed upon, but no consensus was reached, he added.
A discussion on a new constitution is “exciting” since many constitutional provisions and institutions are related to many current debates in Turkey, he said.
“As someone who has been involved in this work before and has worked for nearly two years, I welcomed this with great enthusiasm,” he said, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent proposal to draft a new charter.
When asked if he, as the speaker of the parliament, will take the initiative to convene all political parties and establish a new reconciliation commission, Şentop said he should see the attitudes of all parties first, and their views have yet to reveal.
A collaboration would be right for the process of a new charter, Şentop said, adding that, however, a new constitution does not necessarily need new articles.
“The new constitution does not mean a brand-new constitution which is entirely composed of provisions that are not found in the current constitution. There are established provisions on many issues, there are provisions that will not change, there are established provisions that have been adopted and settled because they have been in force for a long time,” he stated.
“What matters is the paradigm of the constitution, which is made by a parliament elected by the people, conducted by a duly elected parliament,” Şentop noted.
When asked about remarks by former Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek who said that it was necessary to change the law on Political Parties to discuss the system, Şentop said, “It is necessary to reconsider the Political Parties Law and even to make a brand-new Political Parties Law.”
Şentop emphasized that it was not possible to accept “system debate” as a precondition.