Against Turkey’s historic progression
The biggest problem for Turkey is that we have not yet been able to achieve the sociological and sentimental integration to the extent required by the definition of a “nation.” For this reason, we become polarized very easily and very sharply.
Here, even on the topic of the curriculum, we do not speak with the language of pedagogy but with the language of ideology. The new suggestions for the curriculum are also similar.
Conservatives generally criticize the republic’s “national building” project, as if the multinational empire could have been continued. The target of forming a nation was correct; what was wrong were the authoritarian practices.
As a matter of fact, building a nation was also the yearning of one of the last Ottoman sultans, Abdul Hamid II. He had recognized the difficulties of holding a multinational empire together. He was saying that “Our ancestors who conquered nations had neglected to connect such different societies under one law and a common sentiment.”
He was expecting the parliament to do this. The unification of law case in the political reforms made in the Ottoman state in 1839; the chamber of deputies in the constitutional monarchy, and the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) in the republic were all institutions with the same aim: the formation of an integrated and unified nation through political participation and a shared legitimacy.
We have entered the 20th century with major disasters and losses because of several factors such as being extremely belated in industrialization and education, wars and European colonialism.
Nevertheless, again, the fundamental concepts of building a nation such as the “national will and parliament” were gained thanks to the constitutional monarchy.
During the Liberation War, “independence” was added to these concepts. The Lausanne Treaty of 1923 is the most significant phase in building the nation.
One of the problems that caused the Ottoman Empire to collapse, the “minorities” issue, was solved at the Lausanne Treaty by the forced exchange of populations. The unification of law was also ensured at the Lausanne Treaty.
The will that fought the national struggle and that founded the republic was not one of the junta-like “revolutionary command councils” as like many Middle Eastern countries; it was the grand national assembly of Turkey, the parliament.
The “subject” of both the constitutional monarchy and the republic is the parliament.
Regimes have changed; we transitioned from dynasties to a one-party republic, then to multi-party life; from the union of powers to the separation of powers. In this evolutionary journey the essential subject is the “grand national assembly.”
Strengthening the parliament
During the nation-building process in European societies, parliaments were essential “subjects.” Even in the United States which emerged in totally different circumstances, the phrase used by Burhan Kuzu when he said “Poor Obama” shows how strong legislation and justice are before the president.
In the nation-building history of France, the parliament has such a central position that when Charles De Gaulle suggested a semi-presidential system in 1958, he gave the assurance that “the government would be responsible to the parliament.”
In time, the French presidency became more influential. In 2008, a constitutional reform was made. It was promised to the French citizens that the parliament would be strengthened so that they were assured that democracy was functioning.
Here, in Turkey, political scientist and EU Minister Ömer Çelik said a system where the parliament is the “subject” should be introduced. That did not happen.
Former constitution rapporteur, former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy and constitution scholar Osman Can defined the place of the parliament in the new system as, “The parliament that has been far from being the center of political functions for a long time, is now facing the risk of losing its legislative function to a great extent as well.”
This is against the direction of the progression of our history and our need for sociological integration.