Opposition presses Gül to veto MP pension hike
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
President Abdullah Gül can veto the amendment on MPs’ pensions and return it to Parliament, says MHP leader Bahçeli. AA photowo major opposition parties have joined calls asking President Abdullah Gül to veto a controversial bill that hiked the pensions of parliamentary members.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu sent a letter to Gül yesterday urging him to send the bill back to Parliament, while Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli addressed Gül in his speech.
“The extraordinary increase in the pensions of Parliament members by a midnight proposal will certainly cause public indignation,” the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) wrote in the letter. “This indignation will damage Parliament’s reputation. [Gül] should return the amendment to Parliament.”
Kılıçdaroğlu stressed the amendments flouted Parliament’s democratic and ethical norms. If the pensions and salaries of Parliament members need to be increased, that should be debated in public and then passed, he argued.
“Our parliamentary experience should not allow us to pass amendments in a hurry. Preserving our Parliament’s reputation is everyone’s duty. The president will assess whether the amendments are compatible with the Constitution. But I think the ethical values I addressed are more important,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP has disowned the bill, arguing that it was passed with the support of lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It has said it will ask the Constitutional Court to scrap the bill if Gül signs it into law.
MHP leader Bahçeli noted the public reaction to the amendment.
“If the president’s conscience is ill at ease as it was with the law that reduced penalties for match fixing, then he can veto the amendment and return it to Parliament,” Bahçeli said in Mersin yesterday.
President Gül, for his part, refused to elaborate on his stance on the bill but said he might consult on the issue with Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek.
In a related development, police used tear gas to disperse several dozen members of the Health and Social Service Workers Union (SES) who gathered at Ankara’s Sıhhiye Square yesterday to stage a march to Parliament to protest the pension hikes. Police bundled away SES Ankara Chairman İbrahim Kara and briefly held him in custody.
Members of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions (DİSK) also protested the amendments outside Parliament, urging lawmakers to increase the minimum wage as much as they hiked their pensions.
The amendments, which raised lawmaker pensions from 4,980 to 8,000 Turkish Liras, were rushed through Parliament without any debate around midnight Dec. 22. An initial proposal fixing the pensions to 40 percent of the president’s salary was followed by a second one that raised the rate to 60 percent.
The bill also scrapped cuts from the lawmakers’ salaries who simultaneously receive pensions for previous parliamentary terms, bringing the total sum they would get to 19,290 liras.