Opposition back pedals on deputies’ perks draft

Opposition back pedals on deputies’ perks draft

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition back pedals on deputies’ perks draft

KESK members hold a banner reading ‘People are in misery, deputies chase privilege,’ referring to the controversial bill during a protest in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

All three opposition parties in Parliament have withdrawn their support from the recently proposed lawmakers’ benefits bill amid mounting public pressure, a day after it passed through Parliament’s Plan and Budget Commission on May 9.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had agreed to support the bill, which is still yet to be debated in Parliament, as it is at the commission stage.

Reaction has been growing against the proposed draft, which grants lawmakers benefits regarding passports, ID cards, health and funeral expenses, social facilities, travel expenses, protocol lineups and traffic immunity and priority. If it passes, every individual who has been elected to Parliament once will enjoy these benefits for life.

Despite discontent and the back to back removal of support, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy parliamentary group chair, Nurettin Canikli, said the AKP was going to stand behind the move.

“We believe in our hearts that what we signed was right, and the arrangements planned were right too. We stand behind our decision,” Canikli said. “Such regulations should happen through agreements. The bill would not have come to Parliament if it was missing any party’s signature. The opposition therefore did not stand behind its decision.”

The Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) protested against the bill, which it said allowed deputies “excessive” benefits, at the Dikmen gate of Parliament on May 10.

KESK released a statement saying the privileges were not justified.

“For years, our deputies, who fight and insult one another as we witness on television, can easily get along when it comes to privileges such as a pay rises, super retirement, family-wide diplomatic passports, lifelong coverage of medical expenses of their families including plastic surgery, priority in traffic, bearing arms without a time limit or tax, and coverage of all representation expenses by Parliament,” the KESK statement added.