Tough test for Turkish Parliament

Tough test for Turkish Parliament

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Tough test for Turkish Parliament

Turkish Parliament will have a fast-paced calendar on a number of critical issuesstarting from tomorrow.

Politics in Turkey, which had a tense start in autumn, is entering an even tougher period after the holidays. Both the political parties and Parliament have a busy agenda. Parliament has a fast-paced working calendar starting Oct. 30. Politics on the other hand starts working today with the fight over celebrating Republic Day.

No doubt the budget debate that will continue throughout the month of November will increase the tension. The fate of the constitutional amendment proposal that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) persistently demands to hold local elections in the autumn of 2013 will be known this week. The AKP will receive the responses of opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on the motion. There does not seem to be any reason for the AKP to be very hopeful. Unless the CHP makes a surprise move and supports the motion, the AKP may be disappointed and the local elections will be held on time, that is in March of 2014.

Municipality debate

Also, the municipalities law proposal that the ruling party wants to enact will extremely strain Parliament. The regulation, which brings significant advantages to the ruling party in local elections, is on the agenda of General Assembly. The tough opposition of the CHP and the MHP may cause similar scenes to the ones during the internal regulations fight because the spokesmen of the CHP and MHP I have talked to said they would do anything they can to block this proposal.

The pulse of the Constitution Conciliation Commission is also beating very fast. The commission, which wrote 38 articles of the Fundamental Rights and Freedom chapter with reservations, is at a point of deciding whether to continue or not. One commission member gave this warning: “We are at a very critical stage. Nobody should be surprised if the commission does not survive until the new year.” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s pressure that “It should end by the end of the year,” bothers the opposition. Another member of the commission thinks, “A new constitution cannot be written with this approach. Obviously the AKP will take the MHP to its side and make its own constitution.” The opposition thinks that the AKP may disperse the commission and “come forward with a new constitution package” in line with its own mentality at the beginning of 2013. In that package, they assume, there will be transition to a “president affiliated with a political party.”

The agendas of the political parties are also busy. At the weekend, the AKP will have a retreat. With all these developments unfolding, a road map also covering 2013 will be drawn up during this retreat. A direct Kurdish initiative is not expected; however, some new promises and contacts can be anticipated. Moves similar to the Alevi and Roma initiatives, which were debated before the 2012 elections but somehow were not actually activated, could be made.

The CHP is preparing to put forward strong opposition after it overcomes its internal issues. My impression is that the CHP is now determined to make a much tougher and more effective opposition. Politics in Turkey, in this tense atmosphere, is preparing for a tough test starting today.

Which party can win where?

Local elections definitely constitute a significant psychological threshold feature for the AKP government in terms of the party keeping its voter rate. For this reason, it aims to gains certain advantages with the metropolitan bill it has proposed.

The bill, which expands the municipal borders of metropolitan municipalities to the administrative borders of the province and proposed that 13 new metropolises be formed, can change the equilibrium in local administrations to a great extent.

The opposition made a calculation of the new bill taking the results of the June 12, 2011 elections. According to that calculation, the new regulation proposed will facilitate that important municipalities will be passed to the AKP.

Rights of soldiers to be debated

Parliament is preparing to handle a very important issue. Those who have been maltreated during their compulsory military service have formed a platform and created a website under the name “rights of the soldier.” Complaints that were submıtted to this website have been culminated into a report and sent to the Parliament Human Rights Commission. Acting head of the commission Sezgin Tanrğkulu from the CHP reviewed the report, named “Violation of Rights Experienced during Compulsory Military Service,” and made a call to discuss this report and hear from those who prepared it. If the head of the commission, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, from the AKP approves it the commission will convene in the coming days to discuss this banned issue.