Constitutional reform package submitted to parliament
The government yesterday submitted a 29-article constitutional reform package to Parliament. The package was presented to the Parliament administration by Bekir Bozdag, the deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group. The AK Party had initially prepared a package of 26 reforms, but it made some additions after talking to civil society and professional organizations. Three of the 29 changes proposed will be temporary provisions if the package is passed. Bozdag told reporters that it is clear that the package is the product of a consensus. "Because when you look at it as a whole, you see that the changes are objective and in line with the law and with what our nation wants," he added. He said they are open to contributions from all sides during talks in the Constitutional Commission and full Parliament. "We hope the proposal brings the best for our nation and country," he said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the changes will boost democracy in line with criteria laid down by the European Union for eventual membership. The main focus of the constitutional reform package has been changes to the way judges are appointed and making it more difficult to ban political parties. In related news, the EU expressed satisfaction at the reform package while also calling for more efforts to build consensus, which it called vital for implementing the reforms. "A revised constitution is needed in Turkey to allow for a number of key reforms – which aim at enhancing the democratic standards, human rights and the rule of law, and thus improving the daily life of Turkish citizens," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said in a statement yesterday. "I am happy that this objective is broadly accepted today within the Turkish society and over major parts of the political spectrum." Opposition leaders Deniz Baykal and Devlet Bahceli have already declared their opposition to the package. If the government fails to get the necessary majority to pass the package in Parliament, the proposed amendments could go to a referendum.