Parliament speaker starts visiting party leaders for new constitution, CHP leader demands abidance of current one first

Turkish Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş has visited CHP leader Özgür Özel as part of the preparations for the new constitution by the government. After the visit, Özel said there was no need for a new constitution “when the constitution is not being respected.”

Duvar English

Turkish Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş has started visiting party leaders as part of the preparations for the new constitution by the government. Kurtulmuş on April 30 visited main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel in the latter’s office at the Parliament.

After the visit which lasted around 45 minutes, Kurtulmuş and Özel appeared before the cameras for a press statement.

Kurtulmuş, who is also the former deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stated that they talked about procedure, not the content of a new constitution.

“This Parliament has the power to make a constitution,” Kurtulmuş said, adding that he will also visit other party leaders. He will visit opposition Peoples' Equality and Democracy (DEM), İYİ (Good) and Felicity parties on May 2.

Özel, on the other hand, was critical of a new constitution, saying “When people have other expectations such as poverty and hunger, where is the expectation of a new constitution in their demands? That needs to be weighed.” 

Özel said they cannot be insensitive to the people's agenda as a party “that came out as the leading party in the March 31st (local) elections.”

“I told (Kurtulmuş), do you buy a new dress to not wear it? If we want to follow the Constitution, let's change it. You did ‘the best’ (constitution) last time (in 2017), but it has not been abided. It is our right to expect full compliance with the current constitution. We have conveyed our sensitivities on this issue,” Özel added.

“If we talk about the constitution when the problem today is poverty, unemployment, and high inflation, and we disregard these problems, it means that we have not received the message of the citizens,” Özel said and demanded abidance of the current constitution first. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials and President Erdoğan have stated on various occasions that they will work on preparing a new constitution and that they will include regulations on “protecting the family structure” against “perverted movements,” targeting the LGBTI+ community in the country.

The preparations for a new constitution accelerated after the March 31st local elections.

The 1982 Constitution, prepared by the military regime, was amended 19 times. Three referendums for the constitutional amendments were held in 2007, 2010, 2017 under the ruling AKP, paving the way for the centralized hyper-presidential regime of today.

Before the 1982 Constitution, the Republic of Turkey had had three different constitutions, prepared in 1921, 1924 and 1961.

A constitutional draft has to be approved by at least 360 deputies in the Parliament, out of 600, for a referendum to be held. With more than 400 deputies, the draft can be approved without a referendum.

The ruling People's Alliance currently has 320 deputies.