Davutoğlu pledges new constitution, reforms with ‘broad consensus’

Davutoğlu pledges new constitution, reforms with ‘broad consensus’

Davutoğlu pledges new constitution, reforms with ‘broad consensus’

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu delivering a speech at the newly elected national assembly. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) returned to single-party rule with its election victory on Nov. 1, has promised to launch fresh “democratic reforms” and to draft a new constitution with the “widest possible consensus with other parties.”

“This parliament is the parliament of all 78 million [people of Turkey]. No doubt, the sixth AK Parti government is the government of all of our citizens, no matter whether they voted for our party or not,” Davutoğlu said late on Nov. 25, outlining his new government’s program in a speech at the newly elected national assembly.

“In this new term too, we will attach importance to working together, searching for consensus and cooperation in our parliament. We will be in close dialogue and cooperation with all political parties. Our government considers the normalization of our country and politics to be a vital matter,” he added. 

Through the redrafting of the Turkish Constitution, the AKP hopes to change the country’s administrative system to an executive presidential system, though all opposition parties are fiercely opposed to this ambition.

“The 64th government will be a reform government in the strictest sense,” Davutoğlu said, heralding reforms in the fields of “democratization and the judiciary,” “education,” “public administration,” “public finances,” “essential change in the real economy,” and “transformation programs.” 

He claimed that “expanding freedoms” would be a fundamental priority in the AKP’s governing program.

“’Human dignity is at the focus of our democratization perspective. No practice or policy that harms human dignity can be considered or shown as legitimate,” Davutoğlu said, stressing that no citizen should be discriminated against or be subject to hate speech on the basis of their “faith, color, gender, language race, political view, philosophical understanding, or lifestyle.”

“The new constitution and judicial reforms will be in prioritized in the coming period. We will take steps that our country has long been waiting for with the widest possible consensus. A much more reformist and competitive social order, where freedoms will be expanded further and where everybody will be able to live their differences in unity, will be settled,” he added.

“We are determined to lead in the coming period through the drafting of a democratic and civilian constitution that is participatory, pluralistic and pro-freedom,” he said.

PKK, Gülenists 

Stressing the government’s determination to fight against all “terrorist organizations that exploit ethnic, religious or sectarian concepts,” Davutoğlu particularly referred to both the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the alleged “parallel state structure,” referring to supporters of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based preacher who was once a key supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP.

“As was previously the case, as the 64th government we aim to avoid the victimization of citizens in the fight against terror, which we conduct within the law. We aim to build a public order that will secure fundamental rights of the citizens. With this understanding, we will never give up reforms, services and investments and we will not step back,” he said of the security forces’ renewed fight with the PKK.

The prime minister also described the “parallel state structure” as a “new center of guardianship which threatens national security and legitimate democratic system.”

“We will continue our resolved struggle in a way to entirely destroy this and similar structures with the power that we have got from the national will,” he said.

Restructuring HSYK, reviewing Constitutional Court access

Davutoğlu also touched on prospective judicial reforms, which also involve Turkey’s top judicial body, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which has in recent years turned into battlefield between the government and Gülen supporters.

“We will ensure effectiveness, speed, accountability, efficiency and transparency. Based on constitutional changes, we will eliminate disorder in the high judiciary at the level of case laws. Within this framework, the military judiciary will also act within the framework of disciplinary courts,” he said. 

“Restructuring the HSYK, we will found two separate boards: The Supreme Council of Judges and the Supreme Council of Prosecutors,” he added.

“In the face of possible harm to the Constitutional Court’s performance by the extreme workload that individual applications have brought it, we will review this practice of individual access,” Davutoğlu also said.

Individual access by citizens to the Constitutional Court came into effect in September 2012, as part of a set of reforms that were voted on in the Sept. 12, 2010, referendum – carried out as part of Turkey’s bid for full EU membership.

However, the Constitutional Court has since been targeted by the AKP over its rulings given after individual complaints. The Court’s public visibility has grown due to a series of high-profile rulings it has delivered, such as its April 2, 2014 lifting of the government-supported block on access to Twitter.