Can We Write a New Democratic Constitution?

Can We Write a New Democratic Constitution?

I do not define myself as an “optimist”. In fact, I have been accused of being “very pessimistic” on many occasions, for my comments on politics in Turkey. Nevertheless, observing Turkish politics for so long, I started to think that in fact maybe the opposite was true and I have been very optimistic concerning the political developments.

For instance, years ago, after I gave a talk on my Ph. D dissertation (on Turkish secularism), one of my professors accused me of drawing a “gloomy picture” about the future of secularist politics in Turkey. Yet after only five years we had a so-called post-modern coup of 1997, in the name of guarding secularism that even I could not be able to foresee at the time. More recently, I claimed that the so-called “Kurdish opening” had a zero chance of success for various reasons. Still, I could not foresee that Turkey would regress to the politics of security and confrontation shortly after the “opening”.

Now, I am very scared of being “optimistic” to think that it is only “very difficult” to write a new democratic constitution under the present circumstances. It is no secret that the Kurdish question is the biggest challenge in the way of some sort of political consensus. In fact it is big problem, but not the only problem I am afraid. The government party’s general understanding of the democracy is no less of a challenge, let alone the shortcomings of the main opposition parties.

Last week, Prof. Burhan Kuzu of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who is the president of the parliament’s constitution committee, expressed his recent views on the new Constitution in an interview in the Vatan daily under the title of “God will punish those who will be an obstacle for the new constitution!” Kuzu has already stated that he is proud of defending capital punishment last March and often proposes adoption of a ‘presidential system’ in Turkey. Kuzu now clearly stated that “he never liked parliamentary system!” According to him, Turkey is living in a “risky place” on earth and therefore needs further political stability. He claims that “all major events like the coming of the great prophets and ‘the two World Wars’ happened in this part of the world and doomsday may happen here as well, therefore Turkey needs a political system for seven generations”. Kuzu is obviously a “man of foresight” and like many other modern authoritarian politicians, he has “good” reasons to favor stability and historical duty in the name of future generations, at expense of freedom and wellbeing of the living generation.

Since Burhan Kuzu, is the top architect of the new constitution, one does not need to worry much about the future of democracy in Turkey with or without a new constitution.