Will red lines be overcome in the charter?
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The head of the commission, Çiçek, exerts huge efforts for a ‘conciliation constitution’ of the four parties. AA photoThe Parliamentary Constitution Conciliation Commission started writing the text on May 1. During the nearly four and a half months that have passed, the chapter that was dealt with, “Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” has not been finished yet. Since four political parties, namely the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), have initialized reservations for each article for different reasons, only 36 articles have been discussed in the 40-article chapter. And the commission was able to write completely only two articles. There was consensus only on human dignity and features of fundamental rights. The initial projection of the commission had been to complete the constitution in five chapters.
The number of subsections under articles that have been agreed to has only reached the 20s. The articles agreed upon are written in green, the others that have reservations are in red. The red ones, in a sense, are the red lines of the parties. This picture bothers both the head of the commission, Speaker of Parliament Cemil Çiçek and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who insistently demands that the writing of the text is finished by the new year. Both Çiçek and Erdoğan have expressed their disapproval of the slow pace of the commission’s work in the last few weeks. Çiçek intervened in the commission the other week and increased the number of inscription subcommissions from one to two. However, because of the essential disagreements among the parties, the work of the commission again did not reach the desired level.
The commission aims to complete the chapter on “Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” this week even if it would be with “red lines” and with reservations. Forty articles will be written with the red lines of the four parties, in other words, with reservations and in parenthesis. And then the commission will go back to the beginning and deal with every article again one by one. The meaning of this is only too obvious. The commission will need to discuss almost the entire chapter again. What will happen if the red lines are not overcome? A method that has emerged as an alternative is to write all the chapters together with “reservations,” in other words with the red lines of the parties. After that, to write the preamble and the first three inalterable articles, decide on general principles and continue.
It is not yet clear what method the commission will adopt in further stages but the picture that has emerged is not at all hopeful for the future. Some members of the commission including those from the ruling party demonstrate stances that confirm this observation. A commission member was as hopeless as to say, “It would be a huge success if the commission continues until the new year.” One member from CHP said, “The prime minister understood that it would not be with us, so he is now inclined to write the constitution with the MHP.” Before that, a member from the AKP had said, “If this commission does not reconcile, other commissions can be formed.”
The future of the Constitution Conciliation Commission is slowly shaping. The head of the commission, Çiçek, who is still exerting huge efforts for a “conciliation constitution” of the four parties, has harder work today than yesterday. Despite all the sacrifices from its members, the commission may disperse in a most undesired manner after the new year. The ruling party, the AKP, may roll up its sleeves for a new constitution with another partner. The message Prime Minister Erdoğan frequently expressed recently that a twosome or threesome conciliation may be sought, and the “reserved stage” the commission has reached strengthens this possibility… Can the AKP and the MHP make a joint constitution? That is not easy either but they have a better chance than the option with four parties.
Tensions may rise at CHP congress
Differences of opinion in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) are turning into deep fractures. The most recent incident, the Oslo debate, has demonstrated that it is far from easy for CHP deputies to maintain a common opinion on a number of important topics. For this reason, the congress that the CHP has organized for the end of the month may become the stage for a big convulsion. A group of nationalist deputies are expected to make a harsh proclamation, while party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to stand up to this with a call to be “one voice” - both to the party administration and to its deputies. Kılıçdaroğlu seems to be concerned by the image of a party “with many voices.” It is being whispered that Kılıçdaroğlu will issue a warning during the congress, saying: “I have no objection to being multi-voiced, but we also need to protect our unity of discourse. We should fight with the AKP and not with each other.”
BDP’s conditions for peace
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) will hold its congress in mid-October. BDP co-presidents Selahatin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak are expected to make a call in the congress for “the road leading to peace.” The co-leaders are expected to submit five proposals to the government for the end of armed clashes. These proposals are listed as such: 1) The isolation of Öcalan should end, 2) About 8,000 Kurds arrested in connection with the KCK operation should be released, 3) Autonomous local administration should be accepted, 4) Military operations should stop, and 5) Kurds should have a place in the new constitution.