Turkish reforms set for parliament, referendum seen option

Turkey's government will submit to parliament before the end of the month draft constitutional reforms, referendum is seen option.

Turkish reforms set for parliament, referendum seen option

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey's government will submit to parliament before the end of the month draft constitutional reforms that have riled the old secular elite, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said on Wednesday.

Justice and Development (AK) Party announced on Monday a constitutional bill, proposing amendments to 22 articles and abolishment of the Article 15 of the constitution.

Cicek who briefed the representatives of news papers and TV channels Wednesday on the government's constitutional amendment bill, said the constitution itself was the root cause of many problems in Turkey.

He said Turkey was trying to run the state wheel with a problematic constitution, noting that all segments of the society was longing for a new constitution.

Cicek said the current constitution which gave priority to security and state over the individual was outdated, noting that in the contemporary world the individual was given precedence over the state.

He said the government would continue to seek consensus in the parliament until Friday. He said however that it was not always possible to find consensus, noting that otherwise they would carry the issue to referendum.

Cicek said the proposed draft bill was not final, signalling that they were open to criticism and suggestions.

The government lacks the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to amend the constitution without other parties' support, but may call a national referendum to push through the changes.

"Referendum option"

Senior judges have warned that the changes would "encroach on the principle of separation of powers", and the opposition has threatened to ask the Constitutional Court to block the package.

The government bill among other things aims to change the constitution of the Supreme Board of Judges (HSYK) and Prosecutors and the Constitutional Court, and tie opening of closure cases against political parties to the permission of a parliamentary committee.

Opposition parties which are sceptical of the government bill, have also severely criticized the efforts, and said the move aimed at taking over and politicising the judiciary.

The government which denies accusations argues that the bill aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU's expectations.

AK Party government which is touring the opposition parties in a bid to raise support in the parliament for the bill, stated it would carry the amendment package to referendum if it failed to get the required support.

Turkish State Minister & Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that the government would put constitutional amendments on referendum if consensus with opposition parties can not be achieved.

"We will seek a consensus and dialogue until the end," Arinc told reporters.

Constitutional amendments in Turkey need a two-thirds majority --367 votes-- of the parliament, which requires the government to receive support from opposition parties to pass the reform.

Votes from the Justice and Development (AK) Party's 337 deputies may put the planned reform on referendum as any constitutional amendment receiving more than 330 votes but less than 367 need to be submitted to popular vote. However, government's amendments to constitution are severely criticized by the opposition.

"It (constitutional reform) will be put on a popular vote if we can not reach a majority to pass these reforms. So, people will decide directly, by the help of a referendum, whether or not there is a consensus," Arinc said.

Both the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) declared they would not support the bill.

The government bill foresees amendments to 22 articles of the Constitution, including the articles 10, 20, 23, 41, 53, 69, 74, 84, 94, 125, 128, 129, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 156 and 159.

Details

The bill aims to bring the right to collective bargaining for civil servants and the other public workers and tie closure of political parties to permission of a parliamentary committee, which is currently only under the authority of the Constitutional Court.

The government bill to amend the constitution aims to abolish the provisional article 15 of the constitution which prevents trial of generals who led the coup on September 12, 1980. The bill also aims to enable trial of military personnel at civilian courts on charges of crimes they commit against security of the state and the constitutional order.

The bill increases the number of members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, also bringing arrangements to allow the parliament to elect members to the court.

The bill also paves the way for appeals to the decisions of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) at courts, which are currently outside of judiciary supervision.

The bill also aims to enable trial of military personnel at civilian courts on charges of crimes they commit against security of the state and the constitutional order.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Mart 2010, 15:24

SeydiAli

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We would like to hear from WordBulletin" team on possibilities of blocking this package using constitutional court. Obviously opposition needs the signatures of 110 deputies before it can turn to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the same. Can CC annul this? Will CC block this package before submission or Is there a possibility to block it even after submission?