A pluralistic not majoritarian democracy

A pluralistic not majoritarian democracy

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Aug. 7 was the doorway to reconciliation, adding, “Turkey has reached an unprecedented social consensus; we will do our best to maintain it.” 

I have been an optimist all my life. I agree with the PM. Yes, the door to reconciliation is half-open and it is in our hands to push it wide open. However, no doubt it is more in the hands of the ruling party. 

The ruling party must have recognized that nobody is questioning the legitimacy of this government. When there is an unlawful attack against the legitimate government, everybody takes the government’s side with no hesitation. Thus, they should leave their “they want to topple our government” paranoia
Everybody has a very clear stance on how governments should come and go. It is only by elections. It is that simple. 

Since the attempted coup, government officials have frequently been mentioning the inconveniences of having power collected in one hand. This situation is not only valid for the military authority. When one group also has all the power in civil administration, the system does not function.

The path to protect this unprecedented social consensus the PM mentioned is to make the pluralistic democracy mentality dominant in the government, not the majoritarian one. As long as everybody stays within their constitutional boundaries, it is possible to solve our issues by talking, not fighting. Let us assume that the PM is also aware of this. 

Time for new constitution  

As a matter of fact, the social climate at the moment offers an important opportunity to draft a new democratic constitution based on a wide consensus.  

We know that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president favor the presidential system. Opposition parties want the continuation of the parliamentarian system. This does not seem to be an issue that will easily be overcome.  

However, it is possible to agree on basic principles. Whether it is the parliamentarian system or the presidential system, the essential thing to do is to form a strong parliament. We should form the system on a strong elected parliament, no matter what the administration style is. 

The existence of this parliament in the system as a strong control institution as well as a legislative body would be the first step to solving the issues we have suffered through which also brought us to the brink of a coup.  

For this reason, we should not forget that together with the constitution, also the Law on Political Parties (SPK) and the Election Law (SK) have to be changed. If we are to decide on the presidential system, then we need a weak party discipline and a SPK and SK that will make the deputy only feel responsible to their own voters. If we are to decide on the parliamentarian system, then we need a SPK and SK legitimizing party discipline by inner party democracy. 

An election system reassuring the reflection of all voter trends into parliament is also needed.   

A strong parliament that would process laws and control both the government and all state institutions can only be formed that way. 

Another important topic the new constitution should not compensate is the absolute independence and impartiality of the judiciary. If we set off with such a constitution, then it would be possible to advance our defective democracy and solve one of our fundamental problems such as the Kurdish issue. Only if we are able to cross out the stances adopted for the new constitution before and start discussion. 

Closing universities 

Since the coup attempt, 15 universities founded by the Fethullah Gülen community have been closed. These universities had 66,509 students, 2,517 academic staff and 8,000 employees. Now, all of them are out in the cold. It is not possible for all of these students, academic staff and employees to be members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).  

It was possible to sort out those who had management-level contacts with the organization and prosecute them. The Supreme Board of Higher Education (YÖK) has announced that students will be placed in other universities according to their scores, but this is far from solving the issue. This is a rushed decision right after the coup and now these giant university campuses will just remain inactive. 

While many universities have academic staff vacancies, dismissing more than 2,000 academics is nothing but waste of resources.