Quadripartite consensus over the new constitution may yet fall apart

Quadripartite consensus over the new constitution may yet fall apart

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Quadripartite consensus over the new constitution may yet fall apart

Parliament’s Constitutional Conciliation Commission will start penning down the articles of the new charter tomorrow.

Parliament’s Constitutional Conciliation Commission will move onto penning down the contents of the new constitution after May 1. The commission is not expected to proceed as “calmly” and “concordantly” as in the previous six months, and yet it is set to lay down its work methodology this week.

The currently accepted method stipulates that articles on which all four parties reach a consensus on will go through. Articles over which parties fail to reach an agreement will consequently be put on hold for future deliberation. If parties fail to reconcile again, however, then those articles will come to the fore as those parties’ final frontiers. The process will reveal in the end which parties can or cannot reach an agreement over which articles.

A break between parties may emerge at just this point. Just as there can be bilateral or trilateral points of agreement between them, there are also significant articles over which they will never be able to agree upon.

It is difficult for the parties to step over their own boundaries on such articles. For instance, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) would like to touch upon the “untouchables,” while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) stand firm against the idea. The AKP propounds “constitutional citizenship,” the MHP refuses to concede anything from “Turkishness” instead.

Could there be bilateral or trilateral agreements where all four parties fail to achieve a consensus?
“I believe in handling this [matter] through reconciliation. I hope the four parties who have groups in Parliament manage to reach a consensus,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the end of March while he was traveling from South Korea to Iran. Speaking of “plan B” in the event of a failure by the parties to reach a consensus, Erdoğan made this piercing forecast: “Let us see where everyone [draws] their boundaries. There is a package of 26 articles that only recently received this nation’s approval. We cannot withdraw this. ”

A scenario that could absolve the idea of a quadripartite consensus has been circulating in the AKP’s backrooms in light of this statement. Accordingly, they will be pushing for a consensus in the Conciliation Commission until about mid-summer. If that fails, the AKP’s “plan B” will then come to the fore. After taking articles agreed upon by all the four parties as a foundation, bilateral and trilateral agreements will then be identified over the parties’ irreconcilable boundaries. And thus, no party will have abandoned the table, as an alliance will only be sought after the commission completes its work!
The body of the new constitution that the AKP and its allies are to frame will then come into effect by the start of 2013 at the latest after passing through Parliament. The AKP will submit the new constitution to a referendum regardless, however. This move will also help to avert the tough resistance that may be offered by parties excluded from the agreement.

Even if this deep scenario looks marginal today, it could turn into reality. It is especially meaningful in light of this scenario that MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said on April 23 they were ready to assume responsibility and that the AKP’s upper echelons had regarded this as a “welcome” development.

Which minister is Kılıç cross with?

The Constitutional Court celebrated its 50th anniversary. The court’s chief judge Haşim Kılıç invited many figures, including the president, prime minister and representatives of political parties but refrained from inviting one influential person. My source has whispered to me that this person was none other than Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who also happens to have a background in law. Why did Kılıç choose to exclude Bozdağ? Kılıç had said last week that the judiciary had been besieged, and that politics ought to refrain from intervening in judicial affairs. “No one has besieged anyone. Everyone ought to stay put within their own field of authority,” Bozdağ had then replied to Kılıç. My source said that was the reason why Kılıç was cross with Bozdağ.

Women request change of system

It had long been rumored in the backrooms that Erdoğan would implement a presidential system and take up office at Çankaya by forcing this arrangement through a “last-minute proposal” during the framing of the constitution. Interestingly, however, the proposal for a “presidential system” came up even before a panel moved on to writing down the new charter. The AKP’s women’s branches requested a “full or semi-presidential system” in the proposals they advanced for the new constitution in Parliament. If the request advanced by the women of the AKP comes true, then the scenario circulating in the backrooms could also materialize.

The Çankaya elections in 2014 may perhaps even witness a “presidential race,” unless deferred by a higher court decision.