ANKARA TDN Parliament Bureau
Disappointed by the top court's decision to annul the constitutional amendments lifting the headscarf ban in universities, the ruling party has thus far been cautious toward proposals aimed at reducing political friction.
Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan proposed Saturday to re-establish the Senate, which was abolished by the military junta in 1980, in order to strengthen the legislative power of Parliament. He criticized the Constitutional Court's headscarf verdict on the grounds that it violated the principle of separation of powers.
Toptan's proposal came after a surprise midnight meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who reportedly asked the speaker to take an initiative against the court. �I am planning to hold an extensive meeting with all political parties and let them reflect their concerns and wishes regarding recent developments,� he told reporters.
�The principle of separation of powers has come under question [with the court's ruling]. Any power neither can put itself in another's position nor can use powers beyond its authority granted by the Constitution,� Toptan said. Recalling he had no authority to propose the formation of the Senate, Toptan said, �What I want is a broad discussion on the proposal, which exists in almost all European parliaments and that could also share the heavy workload of the Constitutional Court.�
However officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, are cool to Toptan's proposal, arguing that it would not be useful for the efficiency of the legislative body.
�We could discuss it but I do think it would be futile,� Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat was quoted as saying yesterday by daily Sabah. Turkey experienced the Senate system between 1961 and 1980, which was introduced and removed by the military after coups. All laws and constitutional amendments were approved by the Senate before being introduced to the president.
Veteran politicians argue that this system would not be appropriate for Turkey. �The amendments would again go to the top court even though it would also be approved by the Senate. The top court's functions are different,� former President Süleyman Demirel said yesterday.
However, Professor İbrahim Kaboğlu, a legal expert, opposed Demirel's opinion saying, �It exists in nearly all European countries. We should rebuild our system with the Senate.�
Opposition against proposal
Officials of the opposition parties are critical of the proposal as well. Republican People's Party, or CHP, Konya deputy, Atilla Kart, accused the speaker of not being impartial and said, �The aim is to cause the dysfunction of the Constitutional Court. This proposal is not a healthy one,� in an interview with the Turkish Daily News yesterday.
�This proposal will not save the country from political crisis. A long discussion is needed to decide,� Cihan Paçacı, general secretary of the National Movement Party, or MHP, said yesterday.
No clear way out for AKP
In the meantime, the AKP brass continued to discuss possible scenarios that could occur in the light of court's headscarf verdict, which is seen as an indicator of the shutdown of the party on charges of being a focal point of anti-secular activities.
Among the alternatives discussed during a meeting of the party's main decision-making body late Friday, were holding snap elections, introducing a new enlarged constitutional amendment package, and scrapping the top court's duties and responsibilities.
There was a common understanding among many AKP members that any constitutional amendment without the support of the CHP will not pass in Parliament, the TDN learned.
Furthermore, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek suggested not going ahead with such amendments and rather following a wait-and-see strategy after submitting the party's final defense to the top court.