Parliament’s job done by decrees
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered criticisms suggesting that constitutional changes would “weaken the power of the parliament.”
“What do they say? They say there will be no parliament and everything will be referred to one man. Come on now. All of that is a lie. They are living in lies. The power to make laws is not given to the president; the power to issue decrees is given. The law is superior to the decree. The superiority is with parliament,” he said.
We cannot say he is wrong. Yes, with the constitutional changes, the president is given the power to rule the country by decree. If a law is required, parliament will process it.
After the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, you know that a state of emergency was declared. According to the current constitution, emergency decrees can be issued on matters limited to the matters that prompted the declaration of the state of emergency.
Now, let us remember the chapters of the last statutory decree (KHK) printed in the Official Gazette: The licenses, broadcast rights, frequencies and channels of closed private radio and TV stations will be handed to new persons or institutions upon the demand of the Finance Ministry by the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK).
The usage of winter tires, fines and other climate issues are regulated by the KHK.
All impropriety resulting from transactions involving bank loans, their extensions, additional credit, installments, restructurings and other such matters will not be criminalized as “embezzlement.”
Two provisional clauses have been added to the unemployment insurance law.
For private schools, it was added that “social activity centers” can be set up; the permission to open “student study centers” has been removed.
Several articles in the RTÜK law have also been changed.
A clause in the election law was removed, meaning the path to place limitless election ads on private television has been opened.
A clause was removed from the education law on the obligation of the ministry to provide certain services to mass education institutions.
What do all of these have to do with the conditions that required the state of emergency to be declared? All of them are matters that have to be regulated by laws that the parliament should process.
This is a snapshot of what we will be facing when the country starts being ruled by presidential decrees. In such an order, the parliament will be made so inactive that everything will be regulated through decrees decided by one person.
Well, where is the power of the parliament?
Old school competition not preferred
A change has been made at the Law on Basic Provisions of Elections by a KHK allowing limitless advertisement in private televisions in elections and referendums.
Also, TV channels will not be bound by regulations set by the Supreme Election Board (YSK).
They will be able to show any party spokesperson on the screen and have them talk as long as they want.
The regulations of the YSK had the aim of preventing those parties that have more financial means from using disproportional force to influence voter choices so that elections are carried out as an equal competition among parties and so that the will of the people is reflected correctly in the parliament.
We know that ruling parties in past elections have used state resources to the core. But the broadcasts on television were able to balance this inequality to a certain extent.
Now, it will not be so. On one hand, the means and resources of the state and, on the other hand, the power of money will dim the voice of the opposition. Add to this the restrictions that will be imposed on the opposition by governors and district governors because of the state of emergency.
We will conduct a referendum under these conditions. Two boxers will be in the boxing ring, but one of them will be continuously punched by the other because his hands will be tied behind his back.
Louts are free
Those louts who posed with their guns and threatened those who will vote “no” in the referendum “to come and face them” on social media were immediately apprehended. They were sent to the prosecutor’s office. The next day they were released on parole.
I have nothing against this. Pre-trial detentions should be the last resort. However, I am wondering, aren’t those who threaten people with guns in their hands “agitating the public with hatred and animosity” at least as much as designer Barbaros Şansal?
Then why is Barbaros Şansal in jail pending trial because of a tweet he did not post?
Isn’t everybody equal before the law in this country?