The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) physically occupied Parliament’s rostrum on Wednesday night in outrage over changes to the parliamentary charter sponsored by the ruling party that the CHP claims are designed to silence opposition.
The government’s recent effort to amend various bylaws included in the parliamentary charter created chaos in Parliament last week which escalated on Wednesday as members of the main opposition party occupied the rostrum in protest of the new amendment. One of the main objections voiced by the opposition is that the move came upon the initiative of a single party. They argued that all parties should reach a consensus on any changes to the parliamentary charter, as was the case with a recent bid to amend the Constitution.
On the last day of 2011 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) introduced a new motion in Parliament to amend parliamentary charter. The opposition reacted harshly to the proposal, arguing that the amendment mainly shortens the time allotted for opposition parties to talk about their groups’ legal proposals.
The CHP, the MHP and the BDP argue that the amendments to the parliamentary charter are designed to silence the opposition. The AK Party, on the other hand, accuses them of not being ready to solve the country’s problems by dragging their feet on the amendments. CHP deputies who blocked access to the rostrum chanted slogans, calling on Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek to resign. Çiçek strongly criticized the move and said the CHP deputies’ occupation of Parliament will not solve the problem. AK Party deputies booed CHP deputies, who chanted slogans against the speaker. After Çiçek called for a recess, the atmosphere in Parliament grew more tense, resulting in a fistfight and an exchange of harsh words between AK Party and CHP deputies.