Referendum necessary for new constitution: court president

The Constitutional Court president said it is unlikely for the political parties to reach a full consensus on the new document.

Referendum necessary for new constitution: court president

World Bulletin/News Desk

Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic has said the new constitution should be taken to a public vote even if it is adopted with a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

“If the entire Constitution is to be changed, I think it should be taken to a referendum whether or not it is passed with a consensus of more than a 367-deputy majority in Parliament. It should absolutely be taken to the public [for approval],” Kilic stated on Thursday as he spoke during a ceremony to mark the 51st anniversary of the establishment of the Constitutional Court.

The ceremony was attended by top state officials, including President Abdullah Gul, Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek, Supreme Court of Appeals President Ali Alkan, Council of State President Huseyin Karakullukcu, Court of Audit President Recai Akyel, Deputy Prime Ministers Bulent Arinc, Bekir Bozdag, Ali Babacan and Besir Atalay, other cabinet ministers and political party leaders.

The new constitution is being drafted by the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission in Parliament, which has three members from each of the four political parties represented in Parliament.

However, members of the commission have stark differences of opinion on quite a few topics, which has made it hard to complete the new document.

The existing Constitution, drafted under martial law following the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état, is frequently criticized on the grounds that it fails to respond to today's needs for broader rights and freedoms for individuals.

A new constitution has been a top item on the agenda of several political parties and particularly the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The AK Party vowed to prepare a new constitution when it first came to power in 2002. It renewed its pledge after the 2011 parliamentary elections.

In 2007, the governing AK Party created a commission chaired by constitutional law professor Ergun Ozbudun to work on drafting a new constitution. The commission completed a draft, but that draft was never brought to Parliament.

There are now debates surrounding whether or not the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission will fail to complete its version of a draft constitution and if the AK Party should take its own draft to referendum. The party's chairman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also the prime minister, said in late March that the AK Party could take its draft constitution to referendum if the parliamentary commission members failed to reach an agreement on their draft.

The Constitutional Court president said it is unlikely for the political parties to reach a full consensus on the new document.

“A utopia that includes everybody's demands in the new constitution would not suit reality. What is important is to draft a constitution that would secure a high approval from the public in the referendum,” he stated.

Kilic also added that the new constitution should protect human dignity and guarantee human rights and freedoms. “Rights and freedoms of individuals existed at times even when there were no states,” he noted.

Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2013, 09:47
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