ISTANBUL – A first in Turkish politics: the new parliament was inaugurated Tuesday the afternoon, but only about two third of a total of 550 MP’s took their oath. Two opposition parties refused to take part in the ceremony because some of their group members are in jail. Prime Minister Erdogan didn’t comment yet on the situation.
The raising tensions reduce the hope that all parties could cooperate on writing a new constitution. Consensus is needed to renew the Turkish constiatution, that was written by military rulers after the 1980 coup and that is not fit for a democracy.
Because it’s the first time that many parlimentarians ddidn’t take their oath, it remains unclear what has to happen now. It is for example not clear if parliamentary commissions can be formed with MP’s that were not vowd in. Most probably the summer recess will be postponed to try to solve the problems before the parliamentary year starts again in October.
Change of law
There are still several procedures running at several courts to get the jailed MP’s released. If that is succesful, they can take their vows later, together with the MP’s who didn’t take their vows today. Also a change of law is possible, but that would require the AKP to take action within three months, and it’s not clear if PM Erdogan is prepared to do that. For Wednesday meetings are scheduled between the AKP, the CHP and the MHP, focused on choosing a new parliament speaker. Also the current situation will be discussed.
The pro-Kurdish BDP was not present during the inauguration of parliament. They won a lot of seats in the elections of June 12. Six BDP politicians are in jail on remand or were before sentenced to ‘crimes related to terrorism’. Judges decided they won’t be released, despite the rule that MP’s get immunity.
All BDP parliamentarians boycotted the inauguration and didn’t show up. They even went a step further: the BDP decided to no longer have their weekly meeting in parliament, like is the custom, but in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the South-East. In case the debate about a new constitution doesn’t seriously start any time soon, there is a serious risk the Kurdish seperatist movement PKK will increase violence in Turkey. PKK-leader Öcalan explicity interferes in politics from the prison island where he is incarcerated.
The biggest opposition party, the CHP, did attend the inauguration of the new parliament but the their group memebers didn’t take the oath. Two of their MP’s are jailed for involvement in alleged coup plans. CHP-leader Kilicdaroglu declared that his group members will only take the oath if all chosen parliamentarians can do so. He also referred to the BDP-politicians.