Controversial basic tenets saved for last in charter push

Controversial basic tenets saved for last in charter push

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Controversial basic tenets saved for last in charter push

The debate over the presidential system for Turkey is ‘an artificial agenda,’ says the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party Kılıçdaroğlu. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Parliament’s constitution-making commission has decided to keep the preamble, the basic principles of the Republic and the form of the state as the last topics on its discussion list, in a bid to avoid major disagreements that could prematurely derail the drive for a new charter, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The cross-party panel, which starts writing the text today, has agreed on 10 basic sections under which discussions will proceed, sources said following a preparatory meeting late May 7. The commission will skip the preamble and basic principles for the time being and start with the “basic rights and freedoms” chapter, which is expected to be the easiest to agree on.

Other chapters will focus on topics such as the legislative branch, the executive branch, public services and administration, the judiciary, financial and economic provisions, various provisions, final provisions, and temporary provisions.

Among the other topics at the bottom of the discussion list are issues such as the unity of the state, the official language, the national flag, the national anthem, the capital city and the irrevocable provisions of the constitution.

At least one member from each party will need to be present for the commission to function. Decisions will be made through a unanimous vote, and even one objection will be enough to veto a provision. The commission will convene three times a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Only deputies and advisors can attend the meetings. Once the draft is finalized, language experts will review it to approve the wording. Afterwards, the draft will be released for public debate.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member Atilla Kart suggested that “a policy paper” be released publicly to outline “the guiding principles and the understanding on checks and balances” upon which the new charter would be based to give basic guarantees that secularism, gender equality and pluralism would be protected. The proposal was turned down by representatives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), however, on the grounds that all those issues were already up for discussion in the writing process.