Parties to submit 'own charter drafts April 5'

Parties to submit 'own charter drafts April 5'

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parties to submit own charter drafts April 5

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, seen surrounded by journalists in this file photo, says broadening the consensus on the new charter is possible. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The political parties present in Parliament will submit own their drafts for a new charter on April 5, the parliamentary speaker has announced in an effort to show the parliamentary panel tasked with rewriting the Constitution is still at work following the prime minister’s suggestion that its mandate would expire yesterday.

“The commission took two important decisions on their last meeting on [March 29]. They will seek ways to narrow their differences on non-agreed articles and, second, they will introduce their own full constitutional drafts with its general principles and its introduction part as well,” Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said yesterday in televised remarks.

The statement came upon a question whether he would order the abolishment of the Constitutional Conciliation Commission on March 31, as stated March 29 by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an interview with CNNTürk. “These decisions were taken Friday afternoon, hours before Mr. Prime Minister’s interview. I do not know whether he was informed about these decisions.”

The commission was set in late 2011 with an equal number of members from four parties present in the legislature with the task of concluding the writing process of the Constitution by the end of 2012. As the parties failed to produce a joint blueprint, its mandate was extended for additional months. The unofficial deadline for the mandate of the commission seems to be April 23.

The commission will come together today under the leadership of Çiçek in a bid to realize the decisions taken March 29. “They will discuss how to find a consensus on more articles,” he said.

“I believe we can increase the number of agreed articles. Some 28 or 30 articles of the new charter have been written. And other critical articles have been left to the end in a move to increase this number,” he said. Differences between the four parties are very sharp, especially on main titles like citizenship, state-religion relations, the administrative system and fundamental freedoms and human rights.

“That’s why the commission’s decision to receive drafted constitutions from all parties is very important. We have tried to draw a picture gradually since late 2011, but for the first time, we’ll see how parties see the new Constitution, its introduction part and its general principles,” he said.

Risk of ‘regime problem’

Expressing his disappointment with ongoing discussions about the expiration date of the commission and calling all to mull the political risks of not being able to renew the Constitution, Çiçek hinted that Turkey could face a regime problem if it has to continue its road with the current charter.

Recalling that Turkey’s next president would be elected through a popular vote and that that would create a complication between the president and the prime minister, given that both would be elected by the people and would have executive authorities. “We used to have a balance of ruling-opposition parties in the political system. After 2014, this will shift to the president-prime minister. We’ll face more severe constitutional crises,” Çiçek said.

Erdoğan reserved strong criticism for the work of the commission, stressing that it would be impossible to meet the April 1 deadline that had been set. He said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) could try negotiating with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to bring an end to the deadlocked discussions.

The last option would be to bring the draft to the referendum together with the minor opposition Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Erdoğan said, accusing all opposition parties of not being prepared enough. Çiçek remained silent on the AKP’s alternative plans, refusing to make comments on the issue.