Senior MHP official Kaya resigns from post, declaring ‘no’ to constitution change

Senior MHP official Kaya resigns from post, declaring ‘no’ to constitution change

Senior MHP official Kaya resigns from post, declaring ‘no’ to constitution change Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chair and Istanbul deputy Atila Kaya has resigned from his position, vowing to vote against MHP-supported constitutional changes to transform Turkey into an executive presidency.

“My belief in nationalism and my understanding of Turkish nationalism orders my conscience to say ‘no’ to the constitutional amendment. As a requirement of these conditions, I resign from my post as deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party,” Kaya said in a written statement on Jan. 4. 

The resignation comes after the constitutional amendment process was accelerated by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli in early October 2016, when he described the current situation in Turkey as a “de facto presidency.” Bahçeli urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to legalize the de facto situation and offered collaboration in the preparation of the draft.

Prepared jointly by the two parties, the amendment was been passed from parliament’s constitution commission amid altercations between members of ruling and opposition parties Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democracy Party (HDP) on Dec. 31, 2016.

Last month Kaya had conveyed his concern about the under-preparation amendment and said he would vote “no” in parliament, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Dec. 4. 

A day before his official resignation was issued, Bahçeli said he understood Kaya’s decision and said the MHP’s lawmakers would be free to vote individually in parliament. 

“It is normal,” Bahçeli said on Dec. 3. 

“Political parties cannot decide on voting as a group. It is legally not allowed. I only have one ‘yes’ vote that will be counted in the General Assembly. I will give it and I will repeat it in the subsequent referendum,” the MHP leader added.  

Having previously expressed criticism of any proposed presidential system change in a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan back on March 11, 2015, Kaya reiterated his position urging lawmakers to express their position about the constitutional draft on Jan. 4. 

“The proposal, which will change the government system if accepted, has made it a moral necessity for those who will have different preferences from their colleagues to explain these preferences,” Kaya said. 

The constitutional offer is expected to be discussed in parliament next week. If it receives more than 330 votes in the 550-seat parliament, it will be presented in the referendum.

With 316 seats in parliament, the AKP needs 14 additional votes, which are expected to be fulfilled by the MHP, which holds 39 seats.

With Kaya’s announcement, the number of MHP lawmakers who have publicly declared their rejection of the charter has risen to seven.