Turkey’s constitutional panel disbanded over model disputes

Turkish parliament head decides to dissolve newly established constitutional panel, after main opposition members rejects discussion over governance model change

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Committee members hold a meeting under the presidency of Speaker Ismail Kahraman in Ankara on Feb. 10, 2016.

The Turkish Parliament’s newly established committee, which is tasked to draft a new constitution for the country, broke up on Tuesday after opposition party members walked out from the talks.

Omer Celik, deputy chairman of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), accused the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of sabotaging the process to draft a new charter.

“To tell the truth, CHP does not want to create a new constitution,” Celik said at AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara on Tuesday stressing that “We want to make the first constitution of the new Turkey, [while] they insist on the constitution of old Turkey.”

The Constitution Conciliation Committee of 12 deputies - three from each of Turkey’s four parties represented at the Parliament- first met on Feb. 3 in a bid to change current constitution which came in effect after the army overthrew the elected government in a military coup on September 12, 1980.

Earlier on Tuesday, CHP committee member, Bulent Tezcan, told a news conference that Turkish Parliament Speaker, Ismail Kahraman, had announced the dissolution of the committee.

“As no consensus existed about the solution of preliminary issues, the parliament speaker said there was no consensus and the committee would not work from now on,” he said.

Garo Paylan, a deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said that the three opposition parties at the committee defended the parliamentary system though AK Party aims to change Turkey’s governance system into a presidential model.

“The [negotiation] table [set for new constitution talks] collapsed when CHP said it would discuss nothing but the parliamentary system,” Paylan indicated.

Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said on Wednesday that AK Party would continue to work on a new constitution, after the main opposition, CHP, pulled out of the parliamentary committee.

In addition, Davutoglu called on other opposition parties to continue work in the parliamentary panel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously stated that the presidential system best fits Turkey’s long-due needs and has urged lawmakers and parties at Parliament to create a new constitution in accordance with a presidential system.

Davutoglu said in his post-election victory speech on Nov. 1 that AK Party will pursue constitutional changes to enhance the role of the president.

“It is obvious that the current system does not meet Turkey’s needs. This shirt is too tight for this country,” Davutoglu insisted.

Turkey currently has a parliamentary system, in which the president should be neutral, carrying no party membership according to the current 1982 constitution, which has strengthened presidential powers following the coup.

TRTWorld, AA