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Erdoğan’s far-right ally unveils 100-article draft constitution

Devlet Bahceli

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli

The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has announced a 100-article constitution drafted by his party to replace the country’s current charter.

“It is a national obligation to find a compromise and draft a new constitution,” said MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli at a news conference at party headquarters on Tuesday.

Bahçeli said the MHP is ready with its draft constitution and will first present the text to Erdoğan and then to the other political parties.

Turkey currently has a constitution that was drafted in the aftermath of a military coup in 1980. The 1982 Constitution has undergone many amendments but is still criticized for being far from democratic and liberal.

Over the past several months, Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have talked about the need for a new constitution for Turkey; however, critics say Erdoğan is far from allowing the people to enjoy even the freedoms granted by the current constitution.

The MHP’s draft text retains the unchangeability of the founding principles of the Turkish Republic defined in the first three articles and bans any proposals for their modification and talks about a “Turkish nation.”

The text also keeps the presidential system of governance, which was adopted in Turkey following a referendum in 2017.

According to the MHP’s draft constitution, the Religious Affairs Directorate is restructured as the Religious Affairs Organization and the establishment of a Turkey Competence Board is suggested. The central bank of the country is turned into a constitutional organization.

The country’s Constitutional Court is stripped of its status as a top court and given a special status.

Bahçeli shocked many when he called for the closure of the Constitutional Court after the court decided to return an indictment seeking closure of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in March.

Bahçeli said the Constitutional Court could not continue to operate as currently structured and that Turks are capable of and have the right to build a new top court that is “in line with the nation’s history.”

In his first comments about the MHP’s draft constitution, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he did not see the entire text but he fears Bahçeli wants to close down the Constitutional Court.

“He may close down the Supreme Court of Appeals, too,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

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