Referendum ‘way out’ for new charter

Referendum ‘way out’ for new charter

Referendum ‘way out’ for new charter

Hopes on a new charter are slightly lessening, says Sadullah Ergin.

A referendum on Turkey’s new Constitution could provide the country with a way out of the current impasse in the drafting of the new charter, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said.

“As the work for the new Constitution wears on, hopes are slightly lessening, but we are pushing the process until the end. We want to write the most number of articles which we can draft with agreement. We wish to write all of them with agreement,” Ergin said late Feb. 23 in Hatay in reference to the ongoing work by Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission. 

“Regarding the issues on which we cannot provide agreement, the parliamentary arithmetic has a meaning. At the point where there is no agreement, the parliamentary arithmetic and a referendum may step in. Anyhow, there is a very strong determination so that this country should be able to make a Constitution with democratic methods in its Parliament by asking its own people, and should not proceed to the future with this shame,” Ergin said.

A minimum of 330 votes are required for a constitutional change, while any motion accepted with between 330 and 367 votes goes directly to a referendum. The total number of seats occupied by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is 326.

The debate on a possible referendum was triggered earlier this month when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his party could bring the draft Constitution to a referendum together with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

“Our parliamentary seats are not enough to reach the required quorum to make a constitutional amendment. But if we can agree with the BDP, we can take steps together with them in order to reach 330 votes in Parliament,” Erdoğan said Feb. 7 during an interview with reporters while returning from a mission to Eastern Europe.