Will the AK Party be able to change the constitution?
We have reached the stage where Turkey no longer has a Constitutional Conciliation Commission. Indeed, it was never a very realistic prospect in the first place.
A minimum of 367 votes are required to change the constitution in a vote in parliament; 330 votes are required to hold a referendum. Anything below that has no meaning.
The biggest party in parliament, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), does not have 330 votes. What’s more, in a secret vote there is no guarantee that all 316 votes of the AK Party will be positive. The parliament speaker cannot vote either. Even if all ruling party deputies were convinced and voted as a bloc, they would need at least 14 outside votes.
Could these votes be found? Of course they could; this is what conciliation means. The three other parties in parliament could reconcile with the AK Party on several constitutional articles. But a political system change is not among these articles.
The fact that there is no climate of reconciliation for a constitutional change introducing the presidential system does not seem to have led the AK Party to postpone its plans. In the coming period, we should expect the party to form its own commission and write a constitution that includes the presidential system.
AK Party officials will likely visit other parties and look for reconciliation only after the drafting of this text is completed.
What will happen if no agreement can be reached and the AK Party’s constitutional proposal does not receive 330 votes in parliament? At this point, there is a strong opinion among many that early elections will be called, in order for the AK Party to reach 330 deputies to take a constitutional change to a referendum. This opinion is thought to be supported by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and several AK Party members.
This desire for an early election is based on the calculation that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) may not be able to cross the election threshold and the AK Party would receive more than 50 percent of the votes. Whenever this is openly suggested it is immediately denied: First Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu denied it and then Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın.
It would truly be a weird and extraordinary development for a country to hold elections once again after holding two consecutive elections in the previous year. But this is Turkey. Holding two elections last year was extraordinary enough in itself.
When the opposition remains outside politics
Indeed, for an opposition that opened the way for President Erdoğan and the AK Party to hold a second election last year, a similar performance would not be extraordinary.
Unfortunately, at this moment politics and political struggles in Turkey are only being conducted within the AK Party - covertly and shyly.
Although it is not reflected much on the outside, inside the AK Party there are those who automatically support President Erdoğan’s desired presidential system and there are those who hesitate to support it.
We are all watching this political struggle from the outside. That “outside” includes the opposition parties. Probably the opposition is just waiting for the debate in the AK Party to settle and for clarity to arise. They also waited just like this after the June 7 election last year, and we now what happened next.