TODAY.AZ / World news

79 percent of Turkish people "want new civilian constitution"

07 March 2010 [12:15] - TODAY.AZ
Two-thirds of Turks would vote in a referendum to reform Turkey's judiciary, which country's hardline secularist bloc want to block, a poll showed.

Two-thirds of Turks would vote in a referendum to reform Turkey's judiciary, which country's hardline secularist bloc want to block, a poll showed on Saturday.

Such backing would suffice to pass planned constitutional changes that could raise tensions between judiciary and military, on the one hand, and the AK Party government.

The AK Party, nearly closed in a 2008 court case, says it will call a referendum to change the constitution if parliament does not pass reforms expected among other things to limit broad powers judges have to define subversive activity, ban politicians and shut parties.

The poll, carried out by domestic agency Metropoll, also showed 79 percent of the population believed there was a need to reform the judiciary, reported daily newspaper Zaman.

Pollsters had interviewed 1,346 people in 31 provinces, Zaman reported.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has promoted economic and social reform, falling short though of demands made by the European Union Turkey seeks to join. The curbing of military power and arrest of serving and retired officers over suspected coup plots has already tensed ties with the military that made several coup before and established the current constitution.

"The executive and legislative branches have been under siege from the judiciary," Erdogan said, speaking to a summit of businessmen, in response to a comment from the president of the Supreme Court that the judiciary was under attack.

Many intellectuals and writers have waited to halt the ban on freedeom of express that caused many trials against them in the past under the military constitution.

The government began making calls for constitutional reform after a board of judges stripped the authority of prosecutors investigating a coup plot to topple the AK Party government.

Erdogan has not yet unveiled the details of proposed constitutional changes, but the parliamentary opposition and much of the judiciary has indicated they will try to block them.

There is also speculation in the media that Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, who opened a previous court case to close the ruling party for being a "focal point of Islamist activity", may launch another bid.

Constitutional Court chairman Hasim Kilic, often seen as a conciliatory figure between the AK Party and the secular establishment, says there is a need for serious constitutional reform, but this must be achieved through consensus.

Even if a referendum is passed it could still be taken to the Constitutional Court, which overruled an AK Party attempt to change the constitution in 2008 that would have allowed women to wear the Islamic headscarf in universities.

The main opposition party, CHP, angered most of the Turkish people when it prevented the freedom of wearing headscarf in universities by applying to top court to annul the parliament's amendment which would give limited freedom to Islamic wearing of girls.

/World Bulletin/

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