Erdogan pledges ‘constitution by consensus’

Al Jazeera reports:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s re-elected prime minister, has pledged to build a new constitution for the country by consensus after winning a third straight term in parliamentary elections.
Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won nearly 50 per cent of the vote on Sunday, but came up just short of its target of 330 seats in the new parliament, which would have enabled it to draft a new constitution without consulting other parties.

In a victory speech before thousands of flag-waving supporters in the capital, Ankara, Erdogan pledged “humility” and said he would work with rivals.

“People gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation,” he said.

“We will discuss the new constitution with opposition parties. This new constitution will meet peace and justice demands.”

Erdogan put his plans for constitutional change at the heart of his party’s election campaign, arguing that a new one was needed to make Turkey more democratic and to enhance individual freedoms, replacing a document drafted under martial law in 1982.

Ibrahim Kalin writes:

The June 12 election, which gave the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) 50 per cent of the votes and a clear majority in the parliament, is a victory not only for Prime Minister Erdogan but also for Turkish democracy. With a new mandate to govern for another term, the AKP will now seek a broad consensus to write a new constitution and find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.

Since the start of multi-party politics in 1946, no political party in Turkey has been able to rule for three consecutive terms while increasing its votes. The AKP came to power at the end of 2002 and has since then implemented numerous political and judicial reforms, boosted the Turkish economy, and expanded foreign policy. The results from Sunday’s elections show that the vast majority of the Turkish public approve of this model of development that has been spearheaded by Prime Minister Erdogan.

The opposition parties too have made some gains. The main opposition party, the People’s Republican Party (CHP), known for its radical secularism and pro-establishment stance, ran an issue-based campaign and increased its seats in the parliament. Contrary to expectations, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) passed the 10 per cent threshold but lost seats. The pro-Kurdish coalition group, known for its ties to the outlawed Kurdish terrorist group PKK, ran with independents and won 36 seats. Other smaller parties have fallen by the wayside.

Given decades of military coups and anti-democratic practices, this election once more proves the strength of Turkish democracy. The AKP’s success comes mainly from its ability to maintain a balance between democratization and reforms on the one hand, and nation-wide services and steady economic development on the other. Markets have already responded positively to the election results, and the strength of Turkish economy is expected to continue.

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