Turkish Parliament to begin debating charter draft next week

Turkish Parliament to begin debating charter draft next week

Turkish Parliament to begin debating charter draft next week The Parliamentary Constitution Committee will commence reviewing a constitutional amendment proposal to usher in an executive presidential system with vastly enhanced powers for the head of state next week, while the main opposition vowed to struggle against the amendment.

The commission is expected to launch the process on Dec. 20, while the commission is expected to review the proposal and issue its report to parliament within 45 days.

The talks in parliament will proceed in two stages. MPs will first discuss the entirety of the proposal and then discuss and vote on each item.

In the second stage, lawmakers will vote on each article and then vote for the entire package. If the bill gathers between 330 and 367 votes, it will be taken to a referendum within 60 days.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) currently possesses 316 seats in parliament, but it drafted the proposal together with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has 40 seats, thus meaning the document is like to secure enough support to fall within the 330-367 band. 

The discussions in the general assembly are expected to be held in the first week of January 2017, with any referendum likely to be in the first week of April.

The AKP submitted the bill, which suggests granting the president extended authorities, to the parliamentary speaker on Dec. 10 following an agreement between the government and the MHP.

Opposition from CHP

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Levent Gök criticized the government for imposing a presidential system while the country is facing terrorist attacks.

“We do not consider the amendment of the constitution to be appropriate for the sake of Turkey, and we will fight against this both within and outside of parliament,” Gök said Dec. 15.

Defining the constitutional amendment as “a search for a direction toward an authoritarian regime,” Gök said the amendment would cause further polarization in the country.

“In the constitutional amendment negotiations, on the committee, everyone will keep their known position and the community will be divided into two like a watermelon. It is not possible to get a healthy result from this,” he added.

Gök also said they expected the political base of the MHP to join their struggle. “We expect the MHP base and MHP lawmakers to fulfill their historic responsibilities by taking a counterattack on the constitutional amendment.”

According to the proposal of the AKP, the bill will grant the president the authority to issue decree laws, declare a state of emergency, rule the country with resolutions during states of emergency and appoint public officials, as well as almost half of the top judges. Stipulating a one-chamber parliament and preserving the country’s unitary system, the new system will annul the prime minister office. Parliament’s right to audit the ministerial board and ministers, as well as the government’s right to issue decrees, will be abolished.