Türkiye’s Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş on Wednesday received the leaders of three smaller parties as part of talks on overhauling Türkiye’s 1980 coup-era Constitution, a topic that picked up momentum after last year’s general elections.

Kurtulmuş held closed-door meetings with Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu of the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), Önder Aksakal of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and Fatih Erbakan of the New Welfare Party (YRP), all three parties have lawmakers in Parliament but not groups.

Kurtulmuş has already visited the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the main opposition’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other parties at Parliament to test the ground for a new constitution. Parties are currently assessing their proposals for a new constitution. Talks are expected about the content of the new constitution after the start of the new legislative year on Oct. 1.

The Constitution, enforced in 1982 following a military coup that led to the detention of hundreds of thousands of people along with mass trials, torture and executions, has undergone nearly 20 amendments over the years to keep up with global and regional geopolitical conjectures.

The most notable changes were introduced via referendums in 2010 by enabling the trialing of the 1980 coup plotters in civil courts and in 2017 by replacing the parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

“As HÜDA-PAR, we believe Türkiye needs a brand-new constitution instead of making amendments for the 22nd time,” Yapıcıoğlu told reporters after the meeting.

He said the issue of whether Parliament has the authority to make a new constitution should become a public debate and added: “The people should see whoever it is that is arguing that a Parliament elected 95% by the public cannot do such a thing while believing that an advisory council made up of coup plotters can.”

The HÜDA-PAR leader also argued the parties’ negotiations should not be undermined during this process. “Let’s all discuss how we can meet on middle ground,” he said.

DSP Chair Aksakal argued the Constitution, as it was enforced by people who were tried and stripped of their military ranks, should be “purged first and foremost.”

He said he told Kurtulmuş that DSP believes Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution cannot be changed and that the idea “should not even be proposed.” Said articles stipulate that Türkiye’s official language is Turkish and that the first three items cannot be changed.

“Constitutions are the main contract between the state and the people. We think that it is a set of values ​​that secures all segments of society and especially protects the weakest segments,” Aksakal said.

YRP leader Erbakan too revealed his party was working on a draft proposal and agreed the move needed the “utmost agreement and the contribution of all segments in order to be the constitution of the people.”

At least 400 lawmakers must ratify a new constitution draft in Parliament. Anything over 360 votes would allow a referendum, allowing the people to decide.

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