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October 16, 2012, Tuesday

Hitting deadlock in local election bill

In a vote in Parliament on Friday on a government proposal to hold upcoming local elections earlier than scheduled, the government failed to secure the backing of the majority of the deputies, the minimum of 367 votes required.

So if President Abdullah Gül approves the proposal, voters will then go to the polling stations for a referendum.

Nazlı Ilıcak from the Sabah daily says she has been writing for a while now about how wrong it is to make a constitutional amendment just to change the date of local elections. She finds it rather absurd to go to such great lengths to make a single amendment to the Constitution while the public has been looking forward to a new constitution, as was promised two years ago. “I wish President Abdullah Gül would take it to a referendum and the public rejects the proposal so as to give the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party and the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP a lesson for meaninglessly insisting on such an unnecessary amendment,” says Ilıcak, who thinks that Gül will most probably save the ruling party from this troubled situation and avoid taking up the public’s time with a referendum by returning the amendment to Parliament for review. This time, the amendment will be approved by the majority in Parliament, she thinks.

Milliyet’s Fikret Bila says it is hard to believe that although none of the political parties want to go to a referendum to reschedule the local elections five months earlier, they failed to secure the backing of the majority of deputies on Friday. Bila says this incident first and foremost highlights the significance of reconciliation in politics and that it is not always possible for the ruling party to make any amendment that it wants by relying on the majority in Parliament. If the AK Party had found a way to come to an agreement with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which objected to the proposal, the government would not have encountered such a problem today.

Meanwhile, Yeni Akit’s Ersoy Dede does not see this incident as a “crisis” but rather the labor pains of advanced democracy as he thinks that this incident reveals once again that the stance of a political party on an issue is often determined by its leader, and when voting on an issue is confidential and deputies view no pressure when voting, we see that there are people that have different stances on an issue within the party, which is the way it is supposed to be in democracies, he notes.

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