Turkish PM to meet Bahçeli over new charter

Turkish PM to meet Bahçeli over new charter

Turkish PM to meet Bahçeli over new charter

DHA photo

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will meet with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Jan. 4 as part of his tour of opposition parties in a bid to seek support for a new constitution, as well as the adoption of the presidential system. 

Davutoğlu had earlier met Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but excluded the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) because of its leaders’ strongly-worded criticisms against the government over the ongoing fight against terror in Turkey’s southeast.

The top item of the meeting is expected to be the renewal of the constitution during this legislative term, as there has been a mutual understanding among the country’s political parties on this issue. 

The MHP had promised its voters that it would prioritize the writing of a civilian constitution in a bid to get rid of the junta-made charter and therefore will respond positively to Davutoğlu’s proposal. Bahçeli will either propose the establishment of a new inter-party commission in parliament or the revival of the parliamentary panel, which was unable to accomplish the task of rewriting the constitution during the previous legislative term.  

Bahçeli’s redline for the new constitution is the first four articles of the existing text, which define the characteristics of the Turkish state as secular, democratic, social and rule of law. This redline also exists for Kılıçdaroğlu and Davutoğlu has already said he had no problems with these articles, signaling that these articles will be kept in the new charter as well. 

However, like Kılıçdaroğlu, Bahçeli is also cold to the ruling party’s plans to adopt the presidential system and will likely voice his stance during the meeting. Bahçeli had established a team to work and report on the positives and negatives of a presidential system and came to the conclusion that the continuation of the parliamentary system would be more useful for Turkey.  Furthermore, he is expected to propose curbing some powers already given to the president. 

MHP wants to record the meeting 

The methodology of the meeting will also be important, as Bahçeli will propose to record the entire meeting in a bid to avoid misrepresentation of the content of the meeting by the two parties, as allegedly happened during the coalition talks in summer 2015. If Davutoğlu disagrees with the idea, Bahçeli will make another proposal to take the minutes of their conversation. 

During the coalition talks following the June 7, 2015, election, the MHP side strongly criticized Davutoğlu’s version of the content of the talks by underlining that Bahçeli never hinted that he was unwilling to form a coalition government with the prime minister’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).