The national will

The national will

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu emphasized once more the concept of “national will” in his speech on Jan. 26. On this occasion, I will write a piece today that I have been meaning to write for a long time.

My political view is the sociologic and political stream that is called the “central right.” I also call it “the line of Özal-Menderes.” I defend the two main priorities of central right, “developmentalism and national will.” I also find it correct that it is more evolutionist than revolutionist and in reference to “national-spiritual values.” 

However, I criticize the authoritarian interpretation of the “national will” concept that I strongly support. 

This may sound like a surprise to our conservatives, but “national will” is a concept of the Jacobins in the French Revolution. The absolute monarchy was toppled with revolution; instead of it, “people’s absolute sovereignty” came. This did not mean free elections. It was the “unconditional” sovereignty of the revolutionists in the name of the people. The theorist of this mindset was Rousseau.

“The union of powers” principle was the initial principle of the French Republic.  Here too, in our Liberation War and One Party rule, the motto was “sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the nation.” It is because of the spirit of our Liberation War that we are absolutely independent internationally. But what about domestically? 

The “Single Party era” was representative of this authoritarian “national will” and it showed “union of powers” principle had been accepted.  

The Democrat Party (DP) walked to power with the slogan “Enough; the nation has the say, now,” which still excites me. For the first time in our history the masses were elevated to the position of subject. Development also arrived in Anatolia.

The “national will” was coming from the ballot box but its authoritarian definition had not changed. As a matter of fact, in the DP’s discourse, concepts such as the “separation of powers, rule of law, independence of the judiciary” were either not present or weak. 

During the Single Party era, the one where the DP sprung from, the union of powers culture was adopted. While moving to democracy, nobody thought of including the separation of powers in the constitution. The “national will” was understood in its previous authoritarian style; the only difference was that this time, it was the result of elections.

It was this significant factor that dragged the DP into the mistake of authoritarianism. Ali Fuat Başgil defines the authoritarian dominance in the parliamentary majority as “the parliament’s oppression.”  

Great French thinker Raymond Aron explains that the French Republic, which was founded with the principle of union of powers, evolved rather late and was accompanied by huge fights into liberal democracy based on the separation of powers. He believes the reason for this was the weakness of liberal culture in French history. 

The same applies here. Even in the economy field, where liberalism has developed the most, there are still serious problems in the instrumental independence of public institutions. Separation of powers and independence of the justice principles are still not truly absorbed by governments.

Prime Minister Davutoğlu does emphasize the separation of powers and independence of justice in his speeches but the problem does not stem from the PM. 

The problem stems from the perception of national will as a superior metaphysic above the principle of the separation of powers, like it was in the past. 

In fact, in the contemporary era, the “national will” concept of the republicans and the “separation of powers” concept of the liberals are indispensable. If one of them is not present, there is no democracy; it would not be possible for powers to function properly. 

Our intellectuals, especially our conservative ones, should thoroughly discuss the legal evolution of the national will concept. Without enlightening this topic, a good constitution cannot be written.