AK Party speeds up constitutional reform

AK Party decided to speed up a constitutional package to make party closures more difficult in the wake of a Constitutional Court decision.

AK Party speeds up constitutional reform
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has decided to speed up a constitutional package to make party closures more difficult in the wake of a Constitutional Court decision yesterday to hear an appeal to close down the AK Party and ban 71 of its members from political party membership.

The AK Party is considering amending Articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution, which concern the closure of political parties. The AK Party, which has so far ignored proposals on the issue coming from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is planning to take its own proposal to the parties represented in Parliament and seek a consensus. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) earlier announced that it would not back any such move to change the Constitution while the case was in progress. The fact that the MHP's proposal prevents party closures but does not save senior party members from bans from politics as demanded by the prosecutor in his indictment against the AK Party remains one of the biggest challenges for the AK Party.
It is expected that fierce bargaining will take place between the AK Party and MHP over the constitutional changes because the AK Party has to secure the MHP's support to pass the amendments in Parliament without going to a referendum. The support of 367 deputies is needed for constitutional amendments to go into effect. The Democratic Left Party (DSP), which has 12 parliamentary seats, has also announced that it would not support the AK Party's move, which makes it obligatory for the AK Party to seek a consensus with the MHP.

The AK Party administration has already accepted some of the conditions put forward by the MHP regarding constitutional amendments to rules on party closure. For instance, the AK Party will continue to support the closing down of parties that support terrorism. The only thing that seems to paralyze efforts to reach consensus between the AK Party and MHP is the MHP's insistence on the elimination of immunity granted to members of Parliament. While the MHP wants the elimination of political immunity of deputies immediately, the AK Party demands the elimination of immunity granted to 37 professional groups, including bureaucrats and members of the judiciary.

The AK Party is planning to take the constitutional package to the political parties this week. If its proposal garners sufficient support, the amendments will be discussed in Parliament in the first week of April. If none of the parties in Parliament supports the AK Party's constitutional package, it will dare to take the reform package to a referendum by passing it through Parliament on its own. If this scenario is realized, the reform package will have been approved by Parliament in early May. Then the AK Party will reduce the current 120-day referendum period to 45 days and a referendum will take place in Turkey in either June or July.

Today's Zaman
Last Mod: 01 Nisan 2008, 07:56
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