Turkish Parliament opens for painful term

Turkish Parliament opens for painful term

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Parliament opens for painful term

With the tense political atmosphere, Parliament is likely to witness a painful three months ahead. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will announce the democratization package today, which he has said will contain “surprises.” On the other hand, Parliament’s 24th term starts tomorrow. Parliament, which has quite a busy agenda, will hold intense and heated sessions filled with debates until it recesses for the local elections to be held in March 2014. The expectation is not groundless, because even though it has been in a recess for about two and a half months, the high pulse rate of politics is likely to push the blood pressure even higher in light of this busy agenda.

The first step in the tension ladder will surely be the democratization package to be announced today, and the opposition’s reaction. The stances of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are more or less known, but the reaction of İmralı, Kandil and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) seem much more important for the welfare of the resolution process. If the demands of Kurds are not met to a certain degree and if a road map is not announced, then the coming months could be holding serious crises.

Right after the announcement of the package, President Abdullah Gül will take the floor tomorrow at Parliament. If he is not a candidate again for Çankaya, this to-be-last speech of his as president is arousing curiosity with regard to its framework, content and what messages it will carry.

With reservations, Gül declared his support for the beginning of the Gezi Park protests during his United States trip, and this is known to have created some discomfort in the government. The picture he will draw in his Parliament speech will certainly determine the agenda.

Gül is expected to deliver effective messages on the solution of the Kurdish issue, elections, democratization, freedom of the press and expression, and foreign policy - primarily Syria and Iraq. He is also expected to heavily emphasize that he will be one of the effective players in the 2014 elections.

It will constitute an interesting irony that right after Gül, CHP Zonguldak deputy Mehmet Haberal will take the parliamentary oath, two years after he was elected because he was being held in jail as part of the Ergenekon case.

If the information that some ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) female deputies will participate in the general assembly of Parliament wearing headscarves turns out to be true, then it is being wondered whether a new “Merve Kavakçı” crisis will erupt, and what kind of stance the CHP will adopt.

Another tension point that might lead Parliament and politics to a fight will be the debate on the Syria and northern Iraq motions. The government is seeking authorization to send troops, if necessary, to both of these countries. Assuming that the opposition will stage a sharp resistance, the government is discussing merging the two motions.

After all these debates, laws to be enacted within the context of the democratization package will be on the agenda of Parliament. Next will be the 2014 budget talks until the end of November, which are expected to become a battle of the leaders.

The AKP wants to bring the Gezi Park incidents to the agenda of Parliament for a Parliamentary investigation, and these talks will be another painful stage between the government and the opposition.

Because of the local elections scheduled for March 2014, Parliament is expected to start a three-month recess at the end of December. The AKP is planning to enact all the urgent motions and proposals in its agenda by working day and night, and the opposition parties are preparing to strongly resist this hasty stance.

Is Kışanak leaving co-chair position?

Is Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Gültan Kışanak leaving her position? The BDP Women’s Assembly has adopted a decision that for the position of the metropolitan mayor of Diyarbakır, which is a symbolic city for Kurds, a female candidate should run for office for the first time. One name that has been mentioned is Diyarbakır deputy Emine Ayna, but Ayna has problems with the party administration. For this reason, another name has come forward: Gültan Kışanak, who is appreciated for her performance as co-chair of the party. It is not clear yet, but if Kışanak does become a candidate, she will have to leave her co-chair position at the BDP. For her replacement in that position, names such as Pervin Buldan and Ayla Akat Ata are being mentioned.

Interesting claim on Constitution

The Constitution Conciliation Commission has overcome numerous crises over the two years it has been working. Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has stepped in and solved the crises, but at the stage where we have reached now he expresses hopelessness, saying that “a major part of the sun has set.” On the other hand, the Commission is continuing to work.

 A CHP member of the commission, Atilla Kart, has an interesting theory for the future: Kart believes the AKP is using the commission as a “strategy.” “The AKP wishes to continue the Commission until after the local elections. It will form a strategy according to the outcome of the election. Maybe, at that time, it will withdraw its presidential system proposal and start negotiating with us,” he said.