Erdoğan’s far-right ally Bahçeli prepares new constitution draft

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ally and the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Tuesday announced that his party had drafted a new constitution for Turkey, which looks to overhaul the judiciary, Sözcü newspaper reported.

The draft contains 100 articles, including proposed changes to the country’s presidential system while retaining the first five articles of the current constitution dealing with the aims and duties of the state, Devlet Bahçeli said.

In a surprise announcement in February, Erdoğan said his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and coalition partner the MHP were considering a new constitution. Erdoğan’s announcement arrived less than four years after an overhaul of the previous constitution to create the executive presidential system, ushered in with the 2018 elections.

Speaking on the new draft, Bahçeli said the constitutional proposal was “the democratic torch of the 100 years that lie ahead, a move by our people to build and reclaim the future”.

Erdoğan has expressed hopes for a new constitutional text to be ready for public debate by 2022, ahead of the country’s centenary year in 2023, when the next elections are scheduled to take place.

Included in the MHP draft is the expansion of parliament’s power to select members of the judiciary, as well as a new court to deal with certain issues being handled by the constitutional court, as well as the election of two vice presidents, according to Sözcü.

Turkey’s current constitution was adopted in 1982 following a military coup and has been amended multiple times over the years.

Critics of Erdoğan suspect that he may be seeking to use a new law book to increase his executive powers and to compromise the secular principles upon which the current constitution is based.