Early poll offer set for Parliament

Early poll offer set for Parliament

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A one-article proposal for a constitutional amendment to hold local elections early has been handed over to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), after being drafted and finalized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The proposal will be introduced to the Parliament next week after the required number of signatures is collected from deputies of the both parties.

The proposal has already garnered the MHP’s support in principle. It outlines the addition of a temporary article to the constitution. Proposing a constitutional amendment requires 184 signatures and the acceptance of the proposal without referendum requires 367 votes. The AKP holds 326 seats while the MHP has 51, equaling a total number of 377 potential votes.

A deputy chair for MHP’s parliamentary group, Oktay Vural, said yesterday that they had already begun to collect signatures and that the proposal would be submitted to the office of the parliament speaker next week.

“Consensus is reached,” Vural said on Thursday in response to reporters’ questions, while adding that holding elections five months earlier than the schedule might cause problems with mayors’ personal rights. He stated that such problems could be eliminated in case consensus is reached with other parties.

The proposal does not alter Article 127 of the Constitution, meaning the clause for holding elections every five years remains unchanged while a temporary article is added. The proposed text will be written as “The local elections that have to take place on March 29, 2014, as the Constitution obliges, will take place on the last Sunday of October 2013.” This date is Oct. 27, but parties have concerns that writing down an exact date may create some uncalculated problems in the future. The AKP will make the necessary amendment on the law following the constitutional amendment. The calendar for elections will start from August instead of January.”

Article 67 of the Constitution states that amendments to electoral laws cannot be put into practice for one year, which is why the AKP hopes to pass the constitutional amendment through the Parliament prior to Oct. 27, 2012. It will then be sent to the parliament speaker’s office for approval. The ruling party considers having the amendment on the Parliament’s agenda soon after the new legislative year is opened a top priority.