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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promises a new constitution for Turkey

"The shelf life of the constitution of the Sept. 12 drafted after the military coup in 1980 has already expired," Erdogan declared.

Photo: Bloomberg

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Bloomberg)

ANI Middle East
Nicosia [Cyprus] October 31 (ANI): President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech made last Friday in Ankara which was presented as Erdogan's vision for Turkey in the next century but was generally seen as his election campaign manifesto for the coming elections next June, promised a new constitution that would guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens.
"The shelf life of the constitution of the Sept. 12 drafted after the military coup in 1980 has already expired," Erdogan declared.
The Turkish President said that the new constitution would strengthen "the rule of law, pluralism and equality", even though in recent years his increasingly autocratic rule has seriously weakened all the above as shown by the relevant rankings of international organizations.
It should be noted that in The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index for 2021, which evaluates the rule of law in 139 countries or jurisdictions, Turkey ranked 117th out of 139 countries on the rule of law.
In the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by Reporters Without Borders, Turkey ranked 149th among 180 countries. The relevant report warned that authoritarianism in Turkey was rising, and media pluralism was declining, while all possible means are used to undermine critics.
Furthermore, according to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022, Turkey ranks 124th out of 146 countries, with respect to inequalities between men and women. One of the main causes for this is that women's income, on average was just 47 per cent of that of men.
On October 28, Erdogan declared the "Century of Turkey vision." He claimed that on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey next year - "the Century of Turkey" will start.
"We want to make the 100th anniversary of our Republic the turning point of a new era that will change politics in Turkey with its style, functioning and results," he said.
Continuing, Erdogan said: "Bringing a new constitution as a product of the national will, is one of the first goals of our Century of Turkey vision. We are determined to implement it with the approval of our parliament and the approval of our nation. It is the most fundamental right of our nation, which has paid the price of protecting its homeland for a thousand years, its Republic for a century, its democracy for 80 years, and its independence on July 15 (because of the failed coup attempt), to have such a constitution."
Erdogan failed to mention that the constitution passed in 1982 was amended 19 times, and three referendums for the constitutional amendments were held in 2007, 2010 and 2017 under the ruling AKP.
The constitutional referendum, held under a state of emergency in April 2017 (following the failed military coup attempt in 2016), brought by AKP and its ultra-right wing partner the MHP party, passed 18 amendments to the Turkish constitution which abolished the office of the Prime Minister and replaced the parliamentary system with an executive presidency and a presidential system, without meaningful checks and balances.
The President was given sweeping new powers and is now head of state and Government.
Moreover, he can exercise extensive control over appointments to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), further weakening the independence of the justice system.
In his speech, Erdogan said: "We are trying to save our country from the shame of the coup constitution and have a completely new, civil, democratic and libertarian constitution. The fact that we have pioneered many constitutional amendments during our governments does not prevent us from seeing and lamenting the ongoing deficiency in this matter."
Continuing, he said that draft constitutional amendments would be submitted next week that would ensure "the education and employment rights of all our girls and sisters whether they wear headscarves or are uncovered, as well as protect our family institution from the threat of perverted currents."
Erdogan and his ally Devlet Bahceli want to change the constitution in a way that suits their own election aims, but they do not have the necessary votes to do it.
Bahceli wants to lower the election threshold from 10 to 7 per cent, as polls show that he has lost a sizeable part of his followers.
Political observers expressed the view that Erdogan wants to get rid of an electoral rule that a presidential candidate must garner more than 50 per cent of the vote to avoid a second round of elections.
The Erdogan-Bahceli alliance simply does not have the numbers required to achieve its aim. For a new constitution, 400 votes (of the 600-member Grand National Assembly) are required, while for a referendum there is a need for 360 votes.
Currently, the AKP has 288 seats and MHP 48, that is the two parties jointly control 336 votes in the Parliament. They need at least 24 more to put the referendum to the public vote and so they must reach an agreement with some of the opposition parties.
It is interesting to note that opposition parties are strongly in favour of changing the constitution, albeit for different reasons than those of Erdogan. On 28 last February, six opposition parties signed a long joint manifesto for the abolition of the executive presidential system and the restoration of civil liberties and the rule of law under a strengthened parliamentary system.
They want to do away with the concentration of power into the hands of the president and want the president to merely have symbolic powers, while the executive power will be exercised by the council of ministers led by the prime minister. Their main problem is if they succeed in agreeing on a pre-electoral alliance for the upcoming elections and on a joint candidate that will be able to defeat Erdogan.
Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin, in an article published several months ago, pointed out that "Erdogan could face two main problems.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Oct 31 2022 | 8:19 AM IST

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