No letup in AK Party’s determination for new constitution after CHP withdrawal
by Ali Ünal
ANKARAFeb 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Feb 18, 2016 12:00 am
Following the main opposition CHP pulling out of the formation committee for a new constitution, AK Party Deputy Şentop said the party might present its own proposal for a constitution unless a compromise is reached with the other political parties
After the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) walked out of the Constitution Conciliation Committee on Tuesday evening, the head of Parliament's Permanent Constitutional Commission and ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Mustafa Şentop said that the committee is not the only option to write a new constitution, hinting that the AK Party could bring its own proposal to Parliament if there is no compromise on a new constitution with the other political parties. The CHP left the Constitution Conciliation Committee after its third meeting on Tuesday evening over the debate on switching to a presidential system. "It seems [the government] will stall the commission's work until June ... and then make it a part of a campaign by the AK Party and President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] to install a presidential system," CHP committee member Bülent Tezcan told reporters.
As there is no consensus on the solution of preliminary issues, Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman said there was no consensus and the committee would not work from now on," he added. AK Party spokesman Ömer Çelik accused the CHP of sabotaging the process to draft a new charter. "To tell the truth, the CHP does not want to make a new constitution," he said at AK Party headquarters in Ankara. "We want to make the first constitution of the new Turkey, [but] they insist on the Constitution of old Turkey."
Speaking to Daily Sabah, Şentop said that there are options to write a new constitution even after the dissolution of the committee. Regarding the CHP's decision to leave the commission, Şentop said the AK Party principally has no objection to the unalterable first three articles of the current Constitution, but the CHP presented it to the public as the AK Party objecting to these articles and used it as an excuse to walk out of the commission. "All the four political parties had the intention to write a new constitution, that why this commission was established. However, we had some concern about the real intension of other political parties due to our previous experience. In fact, the AK Party has no principal objection to the first three articles of the current Constitution, but the CHP presented it in this way and used this as an excuse to leave the table," he said.
"Even though the CHP received 25 percent of the vote, they assume that their party has the privilege to make a new constitution for all. This was the main problem from the beginning," Şentop said.
Commenting on the AK Party's road map for a new constitution now that the CHP has left the commission, Şentop said that they will seek ways to compromise with the other political parties, and if they cannot reach a mutual understanding he hinted that the AK Party could bring its own constitution proposal to Parliament. "The Constitution Conciliation Committee, with the four political parties, was one of the ways of making a new constitution, but it seems like this option has failed. Now we will seek a way to reach a mutual understanding with the other political parties. If this option also fails we could bring an AK Party proposal to Parliament."
Şentop also claimed that an AK Party constitution proposal could get support from opposition deputies. "The Turkish public needs a brand new constitution and all deputies are aware of what this public demand is. Moreover, it has become an urgent matter now. Turkey may face bigger obstacles if it cannot make this constitutional change. Therefore, I believe that an AK Party proposal could get support from the other parties," he added.