Surprise consensus for Turkey's charter plans

Surprise consensus for Turkey's charter plans

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Surprise consensus for Turkeys charter plans

Cemil Çiçek believes that the number of agreed-upon clauses will increase. He is pushing for more efforts until the new year. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Constitution Conciliation Commission will mark its second anniversary on October 19. During this time, 172 draft provisions have been debated; the number of articles agreed upon has reached 60. The number of non-agreed articles is 112. The commission returned from the brink of collapse four times thanks to the efforts of the Speaker of Parliament Cemil Çiçek.

Each time, Çiçek met with leaders and managed to have the work continue. The stage that has been reached now is that the commission cannot move ahead in the main chapters except for “Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” and “Justice” because four parties refuse to take any step back from their red lines. Because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not retreat from the presidential system, while the CHP and MHP do not step back from the “irreversible constitutional clauses” and the BDP from “education in mother tongue and citizenship,” the commission cannot move ahead of the 60 articles agreed upon.

In November, the commission will reach a new stage of assessment; it will once more debate whether or not to continue. Çiçek believes that the number of agreed-upon clauses will increase. He is pushing for more efforts until the new year to at least issue the agreed upon articles as a package. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had also proposed to pass the agreed clauses from the Parliament. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu, even though he encountered resistance from inside his party, responded positively to this call last week.

Commission members from CHP, Atilla Kart and Rıza Türmen met with AKP member Mustafa Şentop more than once and debated the voting of the 60 articles as a package. Even though CHP’s Süheyl Batum resists, the top administration of CHP wants the package to pass for more than one reason. Kart has also met Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members. MHP is against the package. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), on the other hand, is after inserting certain clauses it wants into the package. In the light of this situation, it is planned that contacts will increase after the holiday and that the 60 or more article package will, with a surprise consensus, pass from the Parliament in the New Year at the latest. The only condition of the CHP is that all four parties represented in the commission support the package. The third party, alongside with AKP and CHP is expected to be BDP. The MHP is refusing to support the package.

Why has the CHP come to this point and what will it do if a foursome consensus is not reached? I asked this question to the CHP commission member Atilla Kart who said he thought the hope for a Constitution from scratch has been lost because of the pressure of the calendar for local elections and the AKP’s insistence on the presidential system. This opinion is dominant in other members of the commission belonging to all four parties. Kart said a package containing certain clauses can be on the agenda of the Parliament before the New Year. “For this, a twosome alliance with the AKP is not adequate. It cannot meet Turkey’s expectations. Four parties should support it,” he said. Kart wants a foursome consensus but if MHP resists, he gives the impression that the CHP will also agree to a threesome consensus.

There could be the chapters “Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and Justice” in the package, Kart said, adding, 60 or more clauses could be amended. Kart also said legislative immunity could be added to the package and with that the issue of the deputies under arrest would be solved. The AKP wants to insert the “citizenship” clause into this package, however, but, because it sees the possibility of a consensus as weak, does not insist much.

Apparently, CHP wants to shoot more than one bird with one stone. The main opposition party, by supporting the package, will have an opportunity to demonstrate to its electorate before the elections that it has a democratic, conciliatory and solution-oriented stance. Also, by organizing the release of arrested deputies it will become the party that has made AKP step backward. Most important of all, and maybe the main factor in supporting the package, it will be the new arrangements in the justice system.

Retreat first, reshuffle next

Expectations for a Cabinet reshuffle have increased prior to the local elections. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will hold its traditional Kızılcahamam retreat on Nov. 2-3, and Erdoğan, after this retreat, will select the local election candidates. He will make his stance clear especially for those ministers who he plans to make candidates for metropolitan municipalities.

After this, a Cabinet reshuffle is expected. There are many speculations about many names, but the latest rumor is particularly interesting.

It is being whispered that Erdoğan will make current Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım the AKP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate and will make current Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş a non-MP Cabinet minister.

Is the BDP closing down?

The Kurdish front is preparing for new moves ahead of the local elections. Sırrı Süreya Önder, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, and Sabahat Tuncel from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and independent Levent Tüzel will transfer to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) after the Bayram holiday. The aim is that by entering elections in the west with this new party, they will be able to lay the foundations of an umbrella party bringing together the entire left and embracing the whole of Turkey, instead of being part of a regional party. If this tactical step, which Öcalan also supports, brings success in the local elections, then the closure of the BDP will be in question. If not, the HDP will be closed after the elections and the journey will continue with the BDP.