MHP ready to renew effort on new charter but still opposed to presidential system

MHP ready to renew effort on new charter but still opposed to presidential system

MHP ready to renew effort on new charter but still opposed to presidential system

CİHAN photo

A meeting between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Jan. 4 ended with a consensus to work on a new constitution, while the latter clearly voiced his party’s firm objection to a transition into a presidential system.

“As the MHP, with our 93 years of experience in democracy, we said that we wanted to go on with the parliamentary system,” MHP Deputy Chair Oktay Öztürk told reporters following the meeting, which lasted over one-and-a-half-hours.

Davutoğlu had suggested discussing the presidential system since the current parliamentary system has not been functioning effectively, Öztürk said.

“We are ready to discuss everything, but never ever the presidential system. We said that in our opinion, under today’s conditions in Turkey, even discussing such an issue is a luxury,” he added.

During the meeting, which took place at Bahçeli’s office at parliament, Davutoğlu was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Lütfi Elvan, AKP Deputy Chair Mehmet Ali Şahin, AKP Deputy Chair and spokesperson Ömer Çelik and AKP’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Naci Bostancı. Bahçeli was accompanied by his party’s two deputy co-chairs, Semih Yalçın and Öztürk, MHP Secretary-General İsmet Büyükataman and MHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Oktay Vural.

“We offered to resume from the 61st article if the work which was agreed on in 2011 is still ongoing,” Öztürk said, underlining that Davutoğlu reacted warmly to their idea.

The MHP politician was referring to parliament’s now-dissolved Constitution Conciliation Committee, which had reached consensus on almost 60 articles. Yet the panel tasked with drafting the country’s first civilian constitution was officially dissolved in late 2013 after nearly two years of futile work.

According to Öztürk, the AKP and MHP leaders agreed that all parties in parliament should have an equal number of seats if a similar conciliation panel is recreated, indicating that the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should also have a place on the panel with an equal number of seats.

Davutoğlu met previously Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but has not met with the HDP because of its leaders’ strongly-worded criticisms against the government over the ongoing fight against terror in Turkey’s southeast.