Parliament to open with hectic agenda

Parliament to open with hectic agenda

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament to open with hectic agenda

Turkey’s Parliament is set to begin its new legislative year on Oct 1, 2012. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey’s Parliament is set to begin its new legislative year on Oct. 1 with a hectic agenda, including a date change for local elections, possibly lifting the immunity of some lawmakers and the extension of a mandate permitting cross-border military operations.

Parliament’s General Assembly will convene under the chairmanship of Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, and President Abdullah Gül will deliver an inaugural speech. The Parliament speaker traditionally hosts a reception to mark the opening of the new legislative year, but Çiçek chose to cancel the Oct. 1 reception to pay respect to the soldiers and police officers killed in a recent escalation in terrorist attacks, marking the second consecutive year in which the reception has been canceled due to terrorism.

Local elections

Parliament will initially discuss a one-article proposal for a constitutional amendment to hold local elections earlier than had been scheduled, which has already been agreed upon by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The proposal would move the local elections scheduled for March 29, 2014 to Oct. 27, 2013. Article 67 of the Constitution dictates that amendments to electoral laws cannot be put into practice for one year after they are passed; therefore the AKP hopes to pass the constitutional amendment prior to Oct. 27, 2012.

The General Assembly is also expected to witness heated debate on the issue of lifting the legislative immunity of some Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers in October. The ruling AKP has signaled that it will take steps to annul the parliamentary immunity of eight BDP lawmakers who sparked fury among the AKP and MHP when they embraced outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants near Şemdinli last mont

Immunity talks

AKP deputy group chair Nurettin Canikli announced on Sept. 8 that his party will take steps to address the issue by the end of the October, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously disclosed that his party favors the lifting the parliamentary immunity of the BDP lawmakers, whom he accused of openly promoting the PKK.

The extension of the mandate permitting the military to conduct cross-border operations will be another primary issue when Parliament reopens.