MHP ‘will continue to fully support’ charter draft: Gov’t
ANKARAThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are in full agreement on the constitutional charter, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said after AKP lawmakers’ concerns about the constitution prompted the leaders of the two parties to convene to discuss potential revisions.
“The MHP will continue to support this constitutional package, which has already been submitted to parliament,” Kurtulmuş said Dec. 27 after the cabinet convened its last meeting in 2016.
“The negotiations on constitutional issues with the MHP have been carried out in a very open and transparent manner from the very beginning. The views of the two leaders are discussed with all details, with no deviations involved, and in full agreement,” Kurtulmuş added.
Kurtulmuş’s comments came after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli met late on Dec. 26 to discuss a new draft constitution at the Çankaya Palace in Ankara.
The meeting was scheduled after Yıldırım confirmed that AKP lawmakers had concerns about articles regulating substitute parliamentarians on Dec. 22.
“Some of our friends have confusions about a few points. The articles will be fixed; we will work on it,” Yıldırım said, adding that the AKP would seek the approval of the MHP group since the proposal was brought to the parliament as a result of the joint efforts of the two parties.
The meeting was expected to address revisions on the article that would bring in substitute parliamentarians, amid concerns that the move could result in serious altercations or even killings. It was reported that the AKP was working on removing some statements in the article such as “death” or “substitution.”
“If we have given all the details about the meetings which were held by the representatives from the two parties and two leaders, this process would not be able to proceed like this. There would be road accidents,” Kurtulmuş told a reporter asking about the details discussed in the meeting.
“The process is continuing with courtesy and gentility. Both parties are taking steps in accordance with the promises that were given to each other,” he added.
Panel agrees on three articles
While leaders have been discussing the revisions, the Parliamentary Constitution Committee agreed on the first three items of a 21-article constitutional proposal at its seventh meeting on Dec. 26 amid fierce arguments between the ruling and opposition parties over the procedure for panel discussions.
The three items regulating Articles 9, 75 and 76 of the current constitution were accepted by the constitutional panel convened by the chair, Mustafa Şentop.
The first item called for the number of parliamentary members in parliament to be increased from 550 to 600.
The second added the term “impartial” to an article regulating the exercise of the power of the judiciary.
The third called for lowering the age of election to 18 from 25.
“The judiciary is exercised by independent and impartial courts on behalf of the Turkish nation,” the new constitutional proposal stated.
Brawl on procedure did not prevent the voting
The voting for the two items in the panel proceeded in the midst of the brawl between opposition parties.
Criticizing the chair for ending the discussion without letting opposition lawmakers express their views, Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chair Engin Altay said the AKP lawmakers were “unduly hasty.”
“It is an illegitimate, unlawful and unjust approach,” Altay said.
People’s Democracy Party (HDP) lawmaker Meral Danış Beştaş said the constitutional amendment “legitimized criminality.”
“It is an imposition. This was prepared even before it was submitted to the commission. What is being done is a legalization of crime. It is insanity,” Beştaş said.
The commission had commenced discussion on the first item after AKP lawmakers submitted a proposal to accelerate the process by ending discussion on the entire bill and passing on to a discussion of the items on Dec. 24. The decision has stirred debate since the opposition criticized the chair proceed an unlawful procedure.