Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Everyone is a Turkish Citizen

PHOTO from Taraf

The CHP has declared its support to amend the constitution in favor of a non-ethnic understanding of Turkish citizenship. Under the country's current constitution (drafted under military tutelage) all citizens of Turkey are members of the Turkish nation (click here, in Turkish). Further, according to Article 66, every Turkish citizen is considered to be a Turk. This is the first time that any major Turkish political party in the entire history of the Turkish republic has offered such a non-ethnic understanding of citizenship.

The change is proposed as part of a wide series of concrete constitutional reforms the CHP has endeavored to put forward. The proposed reforms were drafted by CHP vice-president Suheyl Batum with a team of 35 academics. Though some have speculated that the CHP is too diverse a coalition to generate concrete proposals (Batum himself hales from the center-right), the constitutional proposals are more solid in substantive than the rhetoric coming out of the AKP.

The CHP has also expressed its support for education in mother tongue, which requires amending Article 42, which stipulates that no Turkish citizen can receive education in any mother tongue language other than Turkish. Article 42 specifically targets languages native to Anatolia, such as Kurdish, while allowing for education in English, French, and other foreign languages.

Kilicdaroglu addressing a campaign rally in Hakkari. PHOTO from Milliyet

Meanwhile, for the first time in nine years, the CHP held an election rally in Diyarbakir a day ahead of the rally AKP is expecting to hold tomorrow. Though turnout was somewhat disappointing for the party (only ~2,000 people showed up), it is clear the CHP is performing a series of firsts that could find itself winning voters in the southeast and currying favor with liberal reformers who have since become disenchanted by the AKP.

For an accounting and history, as well as some more context, of the proposals the CHP is putting forward on the Kurdish issue, see this post from a few weeks ago.

Prime Minister Erdogan will hold a rally in Diyarbakir today.

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