Negotiations for the new Constitution

Negotiations for the new Constitution

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Negotiations for the new Constitution

CHP deputy Atilla Kart tells AKP members in the Constitution Conciliation commission that they are in accord with BDP on every topic. AA photo

Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has been writing content since May 2012. The commission has tackled almost 50 articles up to now under the chapters “fundamental rights and freedoms,” and “legislature and executive.” A major portion has been drafted with reservations from the parties in parentheses. Because of the crises that have erupted from time to time, the work that has been underway for a total of one year has not been proceeding at the desired rate.

In the memorandum of understanding that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) signed at the beginning, the clause, “The commission aims to complete its work by the end of 2012” was present. As a matter of fact, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had made more than one call to the parties in the past months saying that if the work is not completed by the end of the year then he would continue on their path by forming other alliances with different parties. Erdoğan’s deadline expires in 22 days.

Presidential system

Under these circumstances, what will the ruling AKP do? Will it declare that it is leaving the table? Will it start new searches with other parties?

Actually, the AKP’s future planning for the new Constitution is hidden under the persistence it demonstrates for the “presidential system.”

The AKP has proposed the presidential system to the Constitution Conciliation Commission. The CHP and the MHP insist on the parliamentary system. The BDP, on the other hand, has proposed a system it calls “democratic autonomy,” in which there are 22 regional Parliaments and a 55-seat central Parliament in Ankara. The CHP and the MHP have asked the AKP to give up the presidential system.

The ruling party, on the other hand, has resisted. Naturally, since the deadlock in the “executive” chapter was not able to be overcome, it was suspended.

However, right at that moment, the BDP decided to re-debate the system proposal at its Central Executive Board. The BDP, in a surprise way, may revise its proposal to accommodate the presidential system. This, in turn, will strengthen the hand of the AKP, which is persistent about the presidential system. Well, how come the BDP has reached this point?

Simultaneously, there was a proclamation from Mustafa Şentop, a member of the commission from the AKP. “Let’s say we agreed on 80 percent and disagreed on 20 percent. These may be about the preamble and the sections on the official ideology. About this section, there may be probably four different suggestions. We may present them as separate packages in the referendum. We may say let the people decide on these. We may submit them article by article and any article that has more than 50 percent of the vote will be accepted.”

The whispers in the corridors and the roadmap Şentop has drawn coincide. Apparently, the AKP, having seen the fact that the new Constitution will not be written by a consensus of the four parties, has started a different search. The formula it has found is developing different alliances with different parties and transforming those numerous articles that have not been agreed upon as several referendum packages.

For example, in one package, the “constitutional citizenship” the AKP and BDP suggest will be a choice in one package. As an alternative, the CHP and MHP proposal of “Turkish citizenship” will be voted on. Whichever one the people choose in the referendum, that article will be written in the Constitution. All of the four parties will consent to the outcome of the referendum.


Will there be a separate referendum package for the presidential system? In the package in question, can it be asked to the people, “Presidential system or parliamentary system?” Will the AKP and BDP support such a package?

The fact that the BDP has not made very clear which system it wants and the fact that it wants to take it to its decision-making body, give the impression that it is “open to negotiations.” As a matter of fact, CHP’s Atilla Kart implied this in one of the debates and told AKP members: “You seem to be in accord on every topic. Why don’t you continue with the BDP?”

Fact-finding commission

After Parliament’s Coups and Military Memorandums Inquiry Commission submitted its report, some deputies started efforts to form a “Fact-finding commission” especially to investigate political executions and unresolved murders. The head of the coup investigation commission, Nimet Baş, favors a comprehensive investigation on all these matters. Baş genuinely wants such a commission to be formed so that those rights that were violated can be restored to the victims. Justice and Development Party (AKP) authorities also favor this proposal. If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approves, Baş will start rolling up her sleeves as the head of a new commission in the new year.

Male deputies remain silent

The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Ağrı deputy Fatma Salman was exposed to violence by her husband, İdris Kotan.

During the past week, Salman divorced her husband, and when she attended the first Parliament session after her divorce a number of female deputies approached her in solidarity and to convey their best wishes, regardless of political party background. In addition, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin is noted for the solidarity she demonstrated on the incident.

A number of male deputies also showed similar solidarity, however it was noted as strange that party groups, the Parliament administration, and a significant proportion of male deputies remained silent on the issue of the violence Salman was exposed to.