ANKARA — The Turkish Parliament has approved a controversial constitutional amendment to lift the immunity of 139 MPs, with all eyes now turning to a judicial process that would see the arrest of deputies from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on terror-related charges and an anticipated wave of social unrest, Hurriyet daily reports.
Some 376 out of 550 deputies voted in favor of the motion in the second and final vote on May 20, comfortably passing the required 367 majority to have it approved without the need to go to a referendum.
Proposed by the 316-seat ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and heavily backed by the 40-seat Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), it received around 20 votes from the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Only HDP deputies did not vote in favor.
Bülent Turan, deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, congratulated all lawmakers for the approval of the move. “It’s not appropriate to compare today’s move with 1990s,” Turan said, in reference to the arrest of four Kurdish lawmakers after their immunities were removed at parliament.
HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas repeated their decision that no HDP lawmaker would go voluntarily to the office of prosecutors to give testimony. HDP also said that it would take the issue to the Constitutional Court.
Just before the conclusion of the vote in parliament, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Black Sea province of Rize that the people did not want “criminal” lawmakers in the legislature, so he was expecting lawmakers vote in favor of the move.
Garo Paylan: This is a Coup
HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan assessed the voting that clears the way for lifting the parliamentary immunity, saying that this is a coup and CHP supported it.
Speaking to Agos about the results, Paylan said that AKP MPs were forced to vote openly once again and this affected the result. “In the first round, AKP’s strategy was to force all of its MPs to vote openly. About 50 AKP MPs were planning to vote against the bill, but they couldn’t have done it. AKP wanted to reveal that the ones voting against the bill were CHP members. Since then, they had been trying to make CHP look like they are supporting terrorism and they oppressed CHP.”
Paylan said. “We won’t go to the court by ourselves, but if they force us to go, there would be nothing to be done. The ones who are old enough to have seen what happened in the parliament in ’90s know the results. In order to defend our supporters’ will, we won’t go to the courts which this oppressive law commands us to go. The ones who voted in favor are responsible for this.”
Paylan said that since this amendment is against the constitutional law, they will try to appeal to the Constitutional Court. However, he also said that he doesn’t think that they will be able to get enough signatories for it: “We need 100 MPs for appealing. If CHP takes the bill to the Constitutional Court even as a mere formality, it would be enough to reverse the decision.”