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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10ANKARA66 2010-01-14 16:33:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKEY: AKP CAGEY ON REFERENDUM PLANS

Tags:   PGOV PINR ELAB TU 
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VZCZCXRO8207
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #0066 0141633
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141633Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1694
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 6761
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 000066 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2020
TAGS: PGOV PINR ELAB TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: AKP CAGEY ON REFERENDUM PLANS

REF: ANKARA 33

Classified By: POL Counselor Daniel O'Grady for reasons 1.4(b,d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Ahmet Iyiymaya, the point man in the Justice
and Development Party (AKP) for legal and constitutional
reform, dismissed recent press reports that AKP was planning
to bring constitutional amendments to a referendum in the
near term. His message was unconvincing, however, suggesting
that AKP may be holding its reform cards close to the chest
or, as with the National Unity Project, is not yet certain
exactly how to proceed. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Ahmet Iyimaya, the head of the Constitutional and
Judicial Reform Committee in Parliament and a former
professor of constitutional law, discussed the proposal by
AKP to shorten the debate period for a referendum on
constitutional amendments with us on January 14. He
dismissed press reports that the AKP wanted the procedural
change in order to quickly pass a package of amendments that
would include allowing government workers the right to
strike, ending or hindering the process providing for the
closure of political parties, and changing the composition of
the Constitutional Court. He said that such reports were
"guesses, not fact."



3. (C) "This is not to say there will be no referendum,"
Iyimaya said. It is to say instead that the AKP has no plan
for bringing forward amendments, but wants the change in
referendum procedures in the event it feels the need to amend
the constitution in the future. AKP regards the current
procedure -- requiring 120 days to pass between the call for
a referendum and the referendum date -- as no longer suitable
in an environment of continuous news coverage and high-speed
telecommunications. A 120-day period of debate contributes
to distortion of the issue, not its clarification, Iyimaya
contended. He pointed out that given the current political
atmosphere (alluding to the violence preceding and following
the closure of the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society
Party (DTP)), the AKP is not planning any significant
reforms: to do so in such a tense environment would be
counterproductive. He was especially dismissive of the
possibility of a public workers' strike amendment, declaring
that its need will vanish as the government completes its
(stalled) privatization agenda.



4. (C) COMMENT: The window for a possible referendum to be
launched is actually quite short. If a referendum is called
within a year of regularly-scheduled elections, it must be
held in conjunction with that election. Since the next
general election will be held -- at the latest -- by July of
2011, any referendum would have to be held on or before July


2010. Under the current system of 120 days of debate before
a referendum can be held, constitutional amendments would
have to leave parliament and be submitted for a referendum by
mid-February, an extremely tight schedule. If the debate
period is shortened to 45 days with the new draft law, the
AKP would have until the middle of May to prepare and pass
amendments.
Jeffrey

"Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s
gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey"