New charter hopes fading away: Parliament Speaker

New charter hopes fading away: Parliament Speaker

New charter hopes fading away: Parliament Speaker

Çiçek says hopes of writing a new Constitution are fading away day by day. DHA photo

Hopes of drafting a new Constitution are fading away day by day, with Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek and a senior member of the ruling party both voicing pessimism over the issue.

Çiçek, speaking in a televised interview yesterday on the private Samanyolu Haber channel just before chairing a meeting of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, said there was no need for the commission to continue its work if it will not bear fruit.

“If we have [only] been able to draft 60 articles within two years and a month, then we should ask whether it can be finalized before elections. We have to review all our efforts. Pretending to be doing it is one thing, but doing it is another thing. All hopes that the commission could draft a new Constitution have been killed off,” Çiçek said.

The four-party Constitution Conciliation Commission declared numerous deadlines for the conclusion of their efforts to draft a new charter, but the panel has failed to find success so far, reaching agreement on just 60 articles; 100 articles have yet to be discussed. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) offered the parliamentary adoption of 60 articles with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but the CHP insisted that the four parties’ consensus should be sought for any approval of the articles.

When asked to lay out his position on whether the panel’s work should continue, Çiçek said the commission’s inability to draft a new charter should be a matter of concern.

“We have to discuss whether this commission will bear fruit. But instead, we are discussing ‘who will leave the table.’ This commission was established for drafting a Constitution, not just for staying at the table,” Çiçek said. “Let the commission continue its work, but only if it will come to fruition. If it will not, this will only delay this process. That’s why we have to discuss the issue in detail. If the commission is not bearing fruit, its existence is meaningless.” 

The AKP’s Mehmet Ali Şahin, who is also a member of the commission, said drafting a new Constitution would be impossible if all-party consensus is sought on the matter, since a party with 26 parliamentary seats can block such an effort.

“There’s a text which include very necessary [constitutional] articles for Turkey, and it can be voted on in Parliament. If 26 lawmakers say ‘no’ to this while 524 [of 550] lawmakers favor it, it cannot be approved in Parliament. Then this country won’t be able to draft a Constitution [no matter what],” Şahin said at a conference in Ankara on Nov. 13. 

Speaking to reporters ahead of the commission meeting, the CHP’s Atilla Kart said Çiçek should come up with a solution for the stalemate on the panel. “Mr. Speaker voiced his pessimism. But he should come up with a solution. We will discuss whether he has taken the necessary initiative.”

Oktay Öztürk of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), meanwhile, displayed discontent with the pessimism from the AKP. Asked to comment on Çiçek and Şahin’s remarks, Öztürk said, “Then they should leave the table.”