News system fury personal: Arınç

News system fury personal: Arınç

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
News system fury personal: Arınç

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arın (R) shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ as Mehmet Görmez, the head Religious Affairs Diroctorate, looks on at a ceremony to mark the establishment of Diyanet TV. AA photo

Much of the opposition for Turkey adopting a presidential system has stemmed from the prospect of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being elected to the post, a senior government official said yesterday as political squabbled heated up on the eve of the crucial new stage in the constitution creation process.

“They [opposition parties] would have easily agreed to the presidential system if it weren’t for Erdoğan. In his profile they see only success, charisma and predominance. They worry that he would now ascend to the helm. They look at their own leaders and see no such chance for them,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said on TRT television.

The debate on the issue of a presidential system for Turkey should now be free of prejudices, said Arınç, who in the past has spoken out against the issue. “We should give an opportunity to those who argue that a better system could be possible. We should be able to talk both about a presidential system and a semi-presidential system like in France,” he said.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin also lent support for discussions on the issue of a presidential system at Parliament’s cross-party constitution-making commission, which convened today to start drafting a text. “If so much reaction is shown against any opinion, new ideas cannot thrive at the negotiation table. This is not a constitution amendment commission, this is a commission for the making of a new constitution,” he said.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said that the presidential system had been discussed for decades and stressed that “the starting point of the current debate is not sound.”

Several times Erdoğan has floated around the idea of a presidential system, but the suggestion was always met with robust opposition on the grounds that it would pave the way for an authoritarian rule. It is believed that Erdoğan will run for president in 2014.

Uphill task for charter

The reignited debate added fresh tensions to the drive for a new national constitution, a drive that has already emerged as a bumpy and divisive process.

The Nationalist Movement Party yesterday (MHP) rejected the idea for a presidential system and stressed that it would resist moves to expand Kurdish rights in the new constitution. “We will hold out against [any changes] that will damage our Unitarian structure and erode the basic characteristics of the Republic as well as demands for education in mother tongue and constitutional status [for the Kurds],” MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, dismissed the presidential system debate as “an artificial agenda.” CHP deputies however voiced concern behind closed doors that the AKP was “sabotaging” the work of the constitution-making commission.
“The prime minister is attempting to draw up boundaries for the commission. This is unacceptable. The AKP is trying to block the ground for consensus. Erdoğan’s flawed understanding of democracy is the only barrier before the Commission,” the CHP’s Atilla Kart reportedly said at the Commission’s meeting late Monday.

The co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtaş also raised misgivings, claiming the AKP had already secretly drawn up its own constitution draft.

“We also have our red lines. A constitution which would not acknowledge the different identities and cultures of the peoples, the right to an education in [one’s] mother tongue, the issue of status and governance will not be a new constitution,” he said.