Erdoğan's call for new constitution 'can't be trusted since he violates the current one'

President Erdoğan's call for drafting a new constitution has fallen short of convincing the opposition parties, which stressed that he doesn't even abide by the current constitution. "How can we be sure that he will abide by the new one?" CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu asked.

Duvar English 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call for drafting a new constitution continues to be on the opposition's agenda despite it falling short of convincing them. 

Opposition parties on Feb. 4 stressed that Erdoğan has already been violating the constitution, while questioning how they can trust him with abiding by the new one. 

"How can we be sure that he will abide by the new one?" main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu asked during a joint press meeting with Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu. 

"Did he swear that he will be impartial in line with the constitution? Yes, he did. Does he abide by it? No, he doesn't. You have to be abiding by the constitution in order to launch this debate. How can we trust the invitation of an individual who doesn't abide by the current constitution?" he also asked.

Erdoğan on Feb. 1 said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) may start working on drafting a new constitution, less than four years after overhauling the previous constitution to grant his office sweeping powers.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli immediately supported Erdoğan's call, saying that Turkey is "obligated" to replace its current constitution.

While all parties agree that a new constitution is needed, the opposition emphasizes that the new one should include the return to a parliamentary system.

Turks had voted in favor of the constitutional changes in 2017, leading the country to switch from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidential system despite strong backlash from opposition parties and critics.

Erdoğan was elected president under the new system in 2018, with sweeping executive powers that opposition parties described as a "one-man regime." The People's Alliance consisting of the AKP and the MHP have defended the system, saying it created a streamlined state apparatus.

Enhanced parliamentary system

Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 4 said that a new understanding and mindset regarding rights and justice is needed.

"Would Erdoğan accept this? I don't think so," he said. 

"We are in a country that Constitutional Court rulings are not implemented," Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to a local court's dismissal of a top court ruling regarding the violation of rights of former CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu.

"We believe in the need for a new constitution and that's why we call for an enhanced parliamentary system," the CHP leader noted. 

Karamollaoğlu, on his part, said that his party's draft constitution proposal will be ready by next week. 

'What difference does it make?

Also on Feb. 4, Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan and Good Party (İYİ) leader Meral Akşener held a meeting. 

"They are talking about drafting a new constitution. If the wish is to form a new constitution from scratch, we need to receive information on that. Erdoğan said this when there are actually no preparations. I see this process as an attempt to not talk about the problems of farmers, shop owners and families," Akşener said during a joint press statement with Babacan. 

The DEVA leader, meanwhile, questioned the point in changing a text that "you already ignore." 

"What's the point in changing a text that you already don't abide by? Why bother with changing a constitution that you ignore?" Babacan asked. 

"There is severe unemployment and poverty in Turkey. The high cost of living affects everyone. What the government should do is to find a solution to these. They should leave this constitution debate aside. What difference does it make to change a constitution that you don't abide by anyway? We shouldn't fall for these attempts to change Turkey's agenda," he said. 

'Democratic constitution in a democratic environment'

Separately, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar said that a democratic constitution can't be made in an undemocratic environment. 

"We want the constitution to be made in a democratic environment through the participation of all segments of the society in a transparent way. The indispensable condition to make a democratic constitution is a democratic environment," Sancar told the T24 news portal. 

"All of the freedoms that form the basis of a democratic environment have been suspended. There is no way to discuss an issue without concerns or obstacles, let alone a debate on the constitution," he said.