Consensus about the need for a new constitution
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inviting opposition leaders to the Beştepe Presidential Complex was a long-awaited picture; it felt good. The most important consequence of the meeting was the consensus on taking up a change to the constitution and the justice system.
But, I have to say that what was lacking in the beautiful picture formed at Beştepe was the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The HDP was excluded. This party’s affiliation with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is apparent. Well then, why doesn’t the state start procedures to close the HDP?
For exactly the same reasons; in other words, to prevent the feeling of exclusion from the system for the 5-million-plus citizens who voted for the HDP, this party should not be excluded from these kinds of talks and meetings.
One positive effect of the atmosphere of unity that formed in the country against the nefarious and bloody coup attempt was the start of the thawing of the polar ice in our political life. The warm meeting at Beştepe was an example of this. The consensus on the constitutional change is also a product of this moderation.
In the meeting at Beştepe, the grave situation of the justice system was brought up by Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. He explained how the judiciary was segmented because of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) elections. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım argued that the high military courts should be incorporated as a department under the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli supported a constitutional change focusing on the justice system. With the approval of the president, a consensus was reached.
Soon, interparty talks including the HDP will start.
Everybody is saying that the judiciary should be independent and impartial but in Turkey the judiciary has changed hands in every era, not being able to be independent and impartial. The source of the problem is that the HSYK is not able to be independent and impartial. The election of HSYK members by “lists” segments the judiciary and the supporters of that “list” dominate the system.
I would like to highlight a couple of essential principles concerning the judiciary.
First of all, the judiciary is not a second degree organ dependent on other powers. The concept of national sovereignty is made up of legislation, execution and judiciary powers. The authorities of the three powers are determined in the constitution according to the principle of separation of powers.
The security of the judge should be elevated to the level of mature democracies. The HSYK should have a pluralism that would not allow a group, a mystic or an ideological sect or a political power, to have their own list win. For this, the “list” system should be abandoned. A “one candidate, one vote” principle should be introduced.
In arranging the judiciary, the principles of the European Commission for Democracy through Law should be adopted.
I will write about the required detailed principles for the judiciary to be as independent as needed to be able to meet its role of “checks and balances,” for it to be as impartial as needed in order to never side with any power, when the matter is publicly debated.
Processing the text of a constitution in parliament with a margin of a couple of votes and then having it accepted by a referendum with the power of propaganda would be lawful and legitimate but it would be very troublesome in terms of politics and sociology; it will have bad consequences.
From that point of view, Yıldırım’s statement that highlighted, as a form of a public pledge, “the vast majority” was important, in my opinion.
“The system change, the constitution change, if not 100 percent of the society, should cover a major portion, a vast majority; it should be a text accepted by them.”
Of course for a text to be a constitution in the sense that it is the national consensus, it has to be based on very wide conciliation, if not 100 percent.
The French constitution valid today was drafted in 1958 and accepted with 82.6 percent of the vote, including overseas votes. This has brought stability to France.
No matter which angle we view it from, it is obvious we are in need of the “culture of conciliation.”