Opposition tactics for new charter

Opposition tactics for new charter

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition tactics for new charter

The opposition wants to force the AKP to make a Constitution that contains about 120 articles and would not include a presidential model. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Constitution Conciliation Commission will carry on its work until July 1. Even though there is no precise data for what will happen after that, there are some tactical expectations. The commission could keep working for a certain period or it could disperse and resort to new ways as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) abandons the table. When considered in relation to the peace process, a package with some slight changes could possibly be brought to the Parliament if a completely new Constitution is not written. If the four-partied table disperses, it is highly possible that the ruling party will attempt to create a new charter by cooperating with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). So, what will the opposition do while the ruling party is implementing its plan step by step?

Since the very beginning, the AKP has managed to direct the commission as it wanted. All the tactics, including the extension of periods, were planned and aimed at certain goals. The extension of the period until July was also made with the ruling party’s calculation. As opposed to the tactical steps and aims of the government, which are gradually being unveiled, the opposition is developing some tactics as well. The opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who think that the ruling party will go into a partnership with the BDP for a new Constitution or a constitutional reform package after the withdrawal of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have begun to develop counter plans.

The opposition firstly wants to increase the number of articles on which a consensus is achieved as far as possible, and wants to force the AKP to make a Constitution that contains about 120 articles that would not include a new presidential model. The opposition parties, which are aiming to direct public pressure toward the AKP by staying on the table and keeping alive the hopes for conciliation, want to prevent a possible AKP-BDP joint Constitution with this tactic. With this aim, they have started to give up their reservations on articles one by one. The speakers of the CHP and MHP, who have decreased arguments on articles to a minimum level, have also enabled the writing process to gain speed.

Before extending the period, there were about 30 articles on which a consensus was achieved at the beginning of May. As the opposition has given up its reservation for many articles, the number of agreed articles rose to 40 last weekend. For instance, the CHP abolished its reserve on the article suggesting voting for convicts, though it includes giving a right to vote for the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan. This article was accepted with the consent of three parties. Also, the regulation suggesting performing military duty as part of public service, which caused conflict due to MHP objections, could be written with the consent of the other three parties apart from the BDP.

If the opposition cannot be successful in the first phase of the plan, it will resort to the second one, which aims at forcing a package which does not include the presidential system with the conciliation and joint proposal of the four parties. The main goal of this is to keep a possible package out of the AKP’s control and oblige a change that is controlled by three or four parties.

Obstructing Erdoğan’s proposed presidential system and the change of the fundamental principles of the Constitution are also among the aims. The opposition aims at doing all these by staying at the table. If this does not work, they could say to the public, “We behaved sincerely in forming the Constitution, but the AKP refrained from conciliation due to its insistence on a presidential system and for the promises it gave to Kurds, so it ruined the four-party table.”

Evidently, with the contribution of the opposition, fundamental right and duties, personal rights, social and economic rights, political rights, the duties and authorities of the Parliament, financial and economic provisions, and even the preamble part will successively pass with consensus by July 1. And a few basic articles such as unchangeable articles, the judiciary and the definition of citizenship will be left to leaders. At the last phase, the opposition will tell the AKP that “We exceeded the 50 percent of the consensus limit. If you withdraw your proposal on a new presidential system, we could implement the new Constitution with four parties.”

Everyone has its own plan within the Constitution process. The plan of the ruling party, on the other hand, is to enact a new Constitution or a reform package which includes the new presidential system and a model suggesting that the president could belong to a political party. We will together see to what extent these plans can be implemented.

First steps to rehabilitation process

The first resolution conference for the peace process is expected to be held in Ankara this weekend upon the demand of outlawed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Members of the PKK are preparing to adapt to civil life after withdrawing with various activities on Kandil Mountain. The government is preparing to take an important step after this summer. A regulation, for which some draft works were initiated, is focusing on the period after the disarmament phase. The regulation, which will attempt to integrate the PKK members into society, covers many subjects including employment, financial aid, military service, the right to vote and stand for election. All these plans are for those who have not been involved in criminal activity. So, what about those engaged in crimes? If arms are laid down, it is said that there will also be some surprises for them.

Cemil Çiçek to leave his seat?

Parliament’s administration, which is now in its second year, will be renewed in June as a requirement of the internal regulations. So, the chairs for the parliamentary speaker, the Chairmanship Council, commissions and deputy group leaders will be voted on. All the speculation in the ruling AKP has focused on the Parliament’s Speaker’s Office. Will Erdoğan go on with current Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek or appoint another name in the second term? Will Çiçek leave his office? If a last-minute change does not happen, the speculation suggests Çiçek will continue in his duty in the new term.