AKP assure public with different lifestyles
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is preparing to assure the public that different lifestyles and the principle of secularism will be respected if it comes to power for a second time and with even greater support than it received in the
In its election manifesto, obtained by Today’s Zaman, the AK Party is also promising a “modern Constitution” that will extend freedoms and make reforms in the judiciary (including in the method of electing members of the Constitutional Court). The manifesto, which will be announced to the public next week, argues coalition governments impair Turkey’s development and that, during a second term in power, it will build on the stability achieved during the past four-and-a-half years. The manifesto was drafted by a team of 20 AK Party members and some high-profile newcomers newly nominated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as candidates for Parliament.
The team included newcomers such as Ertuğrul Günay (former member of the rival Republican People’s Party [CHP]), Professor Zafer Üskül and Cabinet Ministers Beşir Atalay and Hüseyin Çelik.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in various parts of Turkey after the AK Party attempted to get one of its members elected the next president. Demonstrators said control of the government, Parliament and the presidency would give the AK Party enough power to undermine Turkey’s secular system and their secular lifestyles. In a bid to assuage such fears, the AK Party’s election manifesto says: “No quantitative majority gives one the power to restrict different lifestyles. Lifestyles and beliefs of individuals are protected as supra-political values in full compliance with the principle of secularism.”
The manifesto describes secularism with reference to Article 24 of the Constitution, apparently ignoring a call from Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç -- who has been criticized for increasing political tensions in the run-up to inconclusive presidential elections by insisting on a “pious president”-- for a redefinition of secularism. The AK Party says the principles of secularism, democracy and of a social state governed by rule of law are at the heart of its political understanding.
“The secular, democratic and social nature of the Republic of Turkey are inalienable elements of our political understanding. The AK Party embraces the entire society on the basis of these values,” it says.Emphasizing that a new constitution is strongly needed to carry Turkey into the 21st century, the AK Party pledges to take necessary steps to introduce a constitution that will respond to the needs of a dynamic and strong Turkey.
“The AK Party holds as compulsory a cleansing of our democratic regime from all kinds of fears and bans. Attempts to prevent the people’s will from being heard on the grounds of ‘special circumstances of Turkey’ are unacceptable,” the manifesto says.
The manifesto says freedom of religion and expression are also core values of a strong democracy and pledges to go ahead with political reforms to expand those freedoms. “Legal provisions that restrict the right to life, the right to property, the right to freedom of expression and belief, and the right to freedom of association will be revised in accordance with a universal understanding of law and freedom,” it says.
The AK Party, which has been an advocate of Turkey’s membership in the European Union throughout the past four-and-a-half years, promises in the manifesto to carry on the membership efforts with renewed energy.
Measures against terror, domestic security
The manifesto also touches on the issue of terrorist threats coming out of northern Iraq and says the AK Party will take various measures to deal with the terrorism fed by instability in the country. It says disputes over the status of northern Iraqi city Kirkuk will also be a matter of priority, calling for a resolution of the issue on the basis of the principle of equity and full participation of all ethnic and sectarian groups involved.
Of the growing problem with domestic security, the manifesto says a strategy designed to deal with crime -- surging mostly notably in big cities -- will be put into force and that security teams dressed in civilian clothes will be formed to rapidly respond to security incidents in the hopes of catching the perpetrators in action.
Source: Today's Zaman Last Mod: 08 Haziran 2007, 12:23