Majoritarian democracy

Majoritarian democracy

The ruling party again wants to make changes related to the Court of Accounts (Sayıştay). Actually, it was this party that had issued the Court of Accounts Law on Dec. 3, 2010, and again it was them who made amendments in July 2012. And another amendment four months later. Why?

The Constitutional Court annulled a significant part of the amendments the ruling party had made in July 2012 in the Law on the Court of Accounts. The Constitutional Court found the amendment in the 35th article that restricted the Court of Accounts’ reporting powers against the principle of separation of powers. Because, in fiscal matters, the Parliament can monitor the executive power by reviewing the reports of the Court of Accounts; if these reports are restricted, then it cannot monitor the executive power adequately. I had applauded the Constitutional Court’s annulment with a piece titled “Like a Revolution.” (Hürriyet, Dec. 31, 2012)

Four months have gone by. Deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have submitted a motion to the Parliament last Friday for new amendments in the Court of Accounts Law.

In the current Law on the Court of Account, according to the 25th article, the General Assembly of the Court of Accounts has such a mission: “It expresses views on motions and proposals related to the Court of Accounts.” However, those who are proposing amendments in the in the Law on the Court of Accounts have done so without asking for the view of the Court of Accounts.

The current Law on the Court of Accounts is a good law; it is both in compliance with the traditions of the Court of Accounts and also universal principles of “supreme audit.” Despite all that, maybe you feel the need, and you wanted to make a change in July 2012. The Constitutional Court has annulled it.

Why now, then, another change? Moreover, without asking for the view of the Court of Accounts, a century-old establishment that all segments have confidence in.

An open petition

In the new proposal, the articles annulled by the Constitutional Court are not re-introduced; good, this is what needs to be done. However, this time, other articles are being amended so that again there is a restriction imposed on the public and the Parliament’s making use of the Court of Accounts’ audit reports.

Furthermore, the majority in the Parliament, in other words the ruling party, is being made effective at the highly technical Reports Assessment Board within the Court of Accounts.

This is an example of the “majoritarian democracy” mentality of the AK Party which has also come to the surface at their constitutional draft. It does not suit liberal democracy.

I will write again about the Court of Accounts. Now, I am writing an open petition to the head of the Parliament Justice Commission, Ahmet İyimaya, a precious jurist: When the motion is discussed at the commission, please call the Court of Accounts, take their views, record them… I am sure this would be extremely beneficial...

Since 1839

I was invited to a conference on the “Separation of Powers” last month at the Court of Accounts. I have seen how precious and esteemed an institution the Court of Accounts is as well as the high quality of its staff. I have been enlightened by information provided by the head of the institution Recai Akyel, Ph.D., on how supreme audit institutions work in the world and how ours do.

It was not like I was giving a conference; it was more like I had listened to a conference.

One of the most significant features of the “Tanzimat,” the political reforms made in the Ottoman State in 1839, was the formation of Court of Accounts under the name “Divan-ı Muhasebat” in 1862. The decree issued for its formation and other following arrangements are exhibited in their building. It is crucially important that institutions have a strong “institutional memory,” and accumulation of knowledge and tradition. Especially in a country like Turkey where political life has been interrupted, these kinds of historic establishments are like foundations of the society.

These institutions should not be interfered externally too much and they should be allowed to develop by their own dynamics.

Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on April 22. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.