Erdogan pledges piecemeal reform package to be followed by brand new constitution
Pledging to keep his promise to draft a brand new constitution, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said that should his party win next year's parliamentary elections, its new government will replace the current Constitution, drafted decades ago under military rule, with a civilian one. "Consider the constitutional amendment package an effort to pave the way for broader changes," he said in a TV interview, referring to a package set to face a referendum next month. "I believe a stronger government will take office after the 2011 elections. And the new government will make the expected constitutional changes. But such changes depend on the structure of the new government. If it is made up of deputies who favor changing the Constitution, this will happen." The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), led by Erdogan, had hoped to replace the current Constitution, a remnant of the 1980 coup regime, when it swept into power in late 2002. It drafted a document in 2007 but failed to convince the opposition parties to support it. Later, after seeking input from the public and opposition parties, the majority-AK Party Parliament passed a package of changes to some of the Constitution's most problematic articles, which will face a referendum on Sept. 12. Erdogan also criticized efforts by opposition parties to paint the package as an "AK Party project" which doesn't reflect the views of other parties. "This Constitution belongs to the nation," he said. "The opposition parties are working to paint the reform package as an AK Party project. They are wrong. This isn't an AK Party project. This isn't my own project. We wanted to prepare the constitutional amendment package with the support of the opposition parties, but instead, without even seeing the content of the package, they refused to give any support."