Opposition proposal accepted at Turkish Parliament 'a first in past 12 years'

Opposition proposal accepted at Turkish Parliament 'a first in past 12 years'

Opposition proposal accepted at Turkish Parliament a first in past 12 years

CHP deputies congratulate each other after the approval of their Labor Law proposal, May 27. AA Photo

In remarkable scenes late on May 27, opposition parties joined forces for the approval of an amendment to the Labor Law, which they were able to pass due to the absence of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies.

The proposed amendments were penned by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and were approved as most AKP deputies were absent. The AKP usually dominates the agenda of General Assembly sessions due to its parliamentary majority.

"This is a first in 12 years," Ali Özgündüz, a member of Parliament from the CHP, told private TV station Ulusal Kanal, stressing that since 2002 the ruling AKP has unilaterally prevented all opposition proposals.

The related proposal to amend the Labor Law and delegalize the employment of subcontractor workers came onto the agenda last week. At the May 20 General Assembly session, one week after the coal mine disaster in Soma that killed 301 miners, the CHP asked the office of the parliamentary speaker to speed up consideration of the proposal.

This meant that a commission-level procedure regarding the proposal would have to be finalized at the latest within 45 days. The request was eventually approved with the support of AKP lawmakers.

However, in the May 27 session, the CHP filed a separate motion to skip the commission-level procedure and bring the proposal directly to the General Assembly agenda. Deputies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as well as independent deputies at Parliament, voted in favor of the proposal, while AKP deputies voted against it.

After the vote, AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş argued there was a procedural flaw during the voting, which took place under the presiding Deputy Parliament Speaker Güldal Mumcu. Mumcu rejected demands for a re-vote.

“As the CHP, we said, ‘Let’s take this proposal from the last row and make it the first item on the agenda and debate it at once,’ but you objected to this. It was approved and then you say, ‘No, it cannot be debated.’ This has been a test of sincerity. We understand you are not sincere on this issue,” CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi said, taking the floor following the AKP’s objections. AKP holds 313 seats in the 550-seated Parliament.

The approval of the proposal was enthusiastically welcomed by deputies from the opposition parties, who congratulated each other after the session.