AKP does not see presidential system as essential to new charter

AKP does not see presidential system as essential to new charter

AKP does not see presidential system as essential to new charter

AKP’s deputy leader Hüseyin Çelik. AA photo

Amid sound and fury over two major crises on the diplomatic front, the Gaza operation and the Syrian conflict, Turkish politics regained its momentum this week after a peaceful end to the hunger strikes.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin’s announcement that the fourth judicial package will be discussed during the first Cabinet meeting coincided with the commencement of discussions over a draft law stipulating the right to defense in one’s mother tongue in courts.

More importantly, Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Committee convened Nov. 20 after nearly two weeks of hiatus to review the state of rewriting the new charter, which must be concluded by the end of this year. With nearly 40 days left, fewer and fewer people in Ankara are optimistic that the committee’s work will bear fruit.

What marked yesterday’s reunion of the committee is the fact that the ruling party premiered its proposal to change the administrative system into a presidential one. Differing from both the United States and France, the Turkish model of presidency would not endorse the establishment of a senate and would have weaker checks and balances. The president would be able to appoint ministers and would preserve ties with the political party he or she was a member of.

However, the other three parties – and some leading figures from the ruling party – have openly expressed their opposition to the idea of adopting a presidential system, making life more difficult for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The main question almost all journalists and diplomats are asking each other is whether the AKP would push for it on its own.

“We are short 330 deputies. We cannot make it on our own,” the AKP’s deputy leader, Hüseyin Çelik, said yesterday. “Three hundred and thirty votes are needed to take a constitutional amendment to a referendum. “But this is not the end of the world. We will not abandon the constitutional committee’s work just because we cannot proceed with this issue. We will continue to actively work for the new charter.” However, Çelik stressed that the AKP was still of the opinion that adopting this system is necessary but keeps in mind the realities of the situation.

Another AKP official, echoing Çelik, ruled out a potential alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in pushing for a two-party charter, recalling their failure in changing the Constitution to hold local elections six months earlier than scheduled in March 2014.

One can see that the AKP will focus more on the fourth judicial package in upcoming days with expectations that it will also address the problem of freedom of expression. Justice Minister Ergin reportedly promised to visit European delegations to ensure that the package will include measures to this end. Accompanied by the new Constitution, the fourth package will surely help Turkey’s efforts to break the ice with the European Union, of course on the condition of its substance.