Efforts for Turkey's new charter gain speed

Efforts for Turkey's new charter gain speed

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Efforts for Turkeys new charter gain speed

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek heads the Constitiution Conciliation Commission. The charter panel has agreed on nine more articles in a single meeting. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has hit the ground running after a brief break, quickly reaching complete agreement on nine more articles in a single sitting, bringing to 57 the number of items that now have unanimous approval.

During a meeting on July 29, the charter-drafting panel reached a consensus on articles concerning the sections of fundamental rights and freedoms and judiciary, where a notable agreement came on the article stating that “Everybody has the right to life in peace and in protection from violence.”

The article ensures that the state will take legal action to avoid hate speech and actions against a certain section of society, in addition to preventing rhetoric on war provocation, militarism, racism and all sorts of discrimination in order to help cultivate the culture of peace.

The parties also agreed on “freedom of communication,” “expropriation,” “the right to the environment,” “the right to live in peace in an unarmed society,” “the protection of private life and family life” and “the right to become a union member.”

But Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy and panel member Altan Tan told a press conference that the agreed articles remained peripheral.

“Countries that do not bring forward a decent system to their people face chaos. In order for to avoid chaos, Turkey must bring forward a new Constitution. If the prime minister does not produce a decent Constitution, he will be just like other leaders in the Middle East,” Tan said.

With consensus on the 57 articles, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is now considering three alternate strategies to proceed with constitutional reform on its own terms.

Full consensus

The AKP could now give priority to increasing the number of articles to 80 with full consensus and taking these articles to the opposition as a package. Should this move fail, the AKP is expected to withdraw its proposal for a presidential system and push for the idea of a “partisan president” instead. In the event that either scenario is not achieved, the AKP is expected to propose a “multiple-choice referendum” formula.

Previously, the AKP has stated that they will only withdraw their proposal for a presidential system if full consensus is attained, but it now appears likely to press for the “partisan president” model. The AKP will pressure Republican People’s Party (CHP) by reminding them that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and the first president of Republic of Turkey, as well as the founder of the CHP, was a partisan president too, in the early years of the Republic.

The AKP’s last resort of a “multiple-choice referendum” entails consulting the public, which is likely to include providing a choice between the presidential system and the parliamentarian one. If all else fails, the AKP will propose its draft directly to the Parliament and seek the support of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).