The Turkish government avoided early elections yesterday (7 July) when judges approved its proposed constitutional reforms. However, the changes will need to be approved in a referendum, with the main opposition party already campaigning against them. EURACTIV Turkey contributed to this article.
Turkey is heading for a September referendum, after the Constitutional Court announced late on Wednesday it had rejected a request by the main opposition CHP party to annul the reform package.
There were only minor changes to the proposal by the ruling AK party, according to reports.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an was widely expected to call early elections had the Constitutional Court introduced major changes to the proposed constitutional reforms.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu said his party would campaign against the constitutional amendment package ahead of a referendum due on 12 September.
"Politicisation of the judiciary will cause separation in society," K?l?çdaro?lu said, according to the Zaman daily.
K?l?çdaro?lu, a former civil servant dubbed 'the Ghandi of Turkey', was recently elected leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), the country's oldest political party, which is affiliated to Socialist International, the worldwide association of social democratic, socialist and labour parties.
Analysts said a less static CHP that re-established its social democratic credentials and shunned the nationalism of K?l?çdaro?lu's predecessor, Deniz Bayka, would stand a better chance in next year's parliamentary elections.
K?l?çdaro?lu said the constitutional amendments would put the public prosecutor under the instructions of the justice ministry, and therefore his party was against the amendments.
The CHP leader said he was aware of the shortcomings of the current constitution. He agreed that Turkey needed a more contemporary and robust constitution, and pledged to prepare a new constitution in a new parliament under CHP rule.
Kader Sevinç, the Brussels-based CHP representative to the EU, told EURACTIV that her party was critical of some articles in the constitutional reform package, saying they would pave the way towards authoritarian control by the government over the judiciary.
"The verdict of the Constitutional Court that annulled some articles is positive but unsatisfactory for a stronger and European Turkish democracy," Sevinç said.
"However, the package still has articles increasing the authority of the Minister of Justice to the detriment of the principles of rule of law and the citizen's right to challenge before the courts the impartiality of the public prosecution. It includes undemocratic aims of the ruling AKP. The CHP promises to promote a brand new Constitution which will be a case of the best model for European democracy," she explained.
Sevinç added that there was also a very clear breach of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, which stated that "electors must not be called to vote simultaneously on several questions without any intrinsic link," given that they may be in favour of one and against another.
The Venice Commission repeatedly stressed that a duly, open, informed and timely involvement of all political forces and civil society in the process of reform is necessary to achieve wide consensus, even if this inevitably takes time and effort, she argued.
"We invite the European Commission and the European Parliament to protect the credibility of the EU principles in explicitly warning the AKP government on the issue of independence and impartiality of the judiciary's power," Sevinç declared.