CHP's constitution draft will perpetuate the system crisis, experts say
by Mehmed Cavid Barkçin
ANKARADec 10, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Mehmed Cavid Barkçin
Dec 10, 2016 12:00 am
After the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) jointly announced the constitutional-reform package aiming to consolidate presidential authority, Turkey's main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), proposed an alternative-draft constitution, which foresees the reinforcement of the parliamentary system. According to CHP Deputy Chairman Bülent Tezcan, the CHP's proposition is based on three pillars: "a reinforced parliament and legislature," "accountable executive branch with extended authority" and "an independent judiciary system, which will hold the executive branch in check."
The CHP's draft, according to sources, foresees the election of the president by Parliament instead of popular vote, and removes most of the current authority the president has, rendering the position ceremonial. In this context, the draft states that the president will not be heading the Council of Ministers and will not be appointing judicial and executive members. Regarding the legislature, Parliament's authority is increased and mechanisms of checks and balances are improved. Moreover, the election threshold is abolished and the law about the organization of party groups within Parliament is also revised in the CHP's draft. In addition, there are reforms preventing the judicial branch from being overwhelmed by the executive and the legislative branches.
Evaluating the draft, Director of Domestic Politics, of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETAV) Nebi Miş said that the CHP's draft constitution was "just a political maneuver" as a result of social pressure stemming from the reform package agreement between the AK Party and the MHP. Miş expressed that the CHP's proposition will not resolve the system crisis in Turkey: "There were many previous attempts to reinforce the parliamentary system in Turkey; all of which ended complicating the issue more. The initiative for the presidential system emerged as a result of the deepened system crisis. The CHP's draft is just a political maneuver." Miş added that the popular election of the president, which was implemented in 2014, was a direct result of the parliamentary crisis of 2007, expressing that the people will not let go of their newly gained right to elect the president.
Dr. Mustafa Altunoğlu of Anadolu University said that while the CHP's initiative might seemingly be well-intentioned, it bears similarities to the 1982 constitution in terms of attempting to perpetuate the status quo. "Implementation of the Constitutional Court and the increased authority of the president with the 1982 constitution aimed to prevent divergence from the official ideology. Universally, checks and balances guarantee the individual rights and freedoms; however, in our country, they protect the status quo." Expressing that the CHP's draft was an extremely-conservative political move, Altunoğlu underscored that the parliament in Turkey has always been, and still is, utilized as a means to stonewall changes. "Turkey has suffered from this system. Look at the commissions at the parliament. Thus, the CHP is basically saying that they don't want to relinquish their right to stonewall and deadlock the system," said Altunoğlu.