Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş is set to hold more discussions to garner support for drafting a new constitution. After a nine-day parliamentary recess due to a religious holiday, he will meet representatives of several parties in the coming days.

He is scheduled to visit three parties not represented in Parliament before talking with representatives of civic society organizations and academics.

Kurtulmuş has already visited the main opposition’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other parties at Parliament to test the ground for overhauling Türkiye’s coup-era Constitution, a topic that picked up momentum after last year’s general elections. 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 debate over the Constitution has been lengthy and for more than a decade, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have championed the struggle to gain the support of other political parties to draft a new constitution.

The opposition has been reluctant and, at times, outright hostile to the attempts to create a new constitution. Their reasons were mostly political, and they opposed the move being “imposed” upon them by the government, despite Erdoğan’s repeated remarks that they wanted to consult with other parties before starting the work.

The current Constitution was 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, which still represents a dark period in Turkish political history.

The document 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, which enabled the trialing of the 1980 coup plotters in civil courts, and in 2017, by replacing the parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

In 2007, Erdoğan’s AK Party attempted an overhaul by employing a commission to produce a draft, which was shelved upon heated criticism from the opposition.

Since then, the party has been working on “stronger” material. Its proposed changes focus on freedom, the right to security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech and the rights of women and the disabled. The enhancement of these rights and liberties has seen setbacks in the bureaucracy that have prevented them from being appropriately implemented.

The new constitution was a top item for Erdoğan and CHP leader Özgür Özel, too, as the pair met in May for a rare meeting, one month before Erdoğan visited the CHP headquarters in return.

Erdoğan told Özel the need for a civil constitution fitting modern standards, while Özel insisted the CHP wouldn’t participate in draft talks “as long as the current Constitution is not executed.”

Erdoğan’s AK Party aims to pen a constitution with 90-100 articles, as opposed to the 177 articles and 16 temporary items in the current document.

“But if the opposition refuses to support our draft, we will take our proposal to the public,” an AK Party official said last year.

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.

The AK Party retained 268 seats in the 2023 parliamentary polls, far higher than its closest rival, the CHP, which won 169 seats. The AK Party, however, is part of the People’s Alliance, which also includes its closest ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and together, they have 323 seats.

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