The new dictate charter
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said his administration was determined to undertake whatever possible to finish within a month the writing of a new constitution that will carry Turkey to a Turkish-style presidential rule.
The prime minister’s declaration was of course one underlining that the ruling party would no longer seek a national consensus in writing the new constitution. The last time Turkey wrote a constitution talking or writing against the draft written by a group of consultative assembly members under the dictate of the ruling five generals was strictly prohibited. There were some people and some papers – one of which was the Daily News – who dared to utter a few words against the way the constitution was written as well as the anti-democratic style of it. Most of the Turkish media, and of course the intellectuals, were so scared that a huge majority of them were supportive of the so-called national charter draft. Of course some people were rather opportunist; they were saying “yes” in hopes that once the new constitution was adopted the country would go to elections and the military would go. At the time the country was writing what later became known as the 1982 constitution. Now, if a new charter is written, its name would most likely carry the initials of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and thus be known as the “RTE constitution.”
If what the prime minister said is to be taken seriously, the country will once again undergo a single-handed push to write a constitution serving the expectations, delusions and obsessions of this time not five generals but just one man apparently determined to become the sole executive of the country for life. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) cannot legislate a new constitution on its own, as it has under the minimum 330 votes required for a constitutional amendment to write a new constitution with a referendum.
For this writer and many others, getting 300 votes might not be a big problem for the AKP, as the ruling party has its political crutch, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has always rushed to its aid over the past many years to overcome all problems. The decision by the AKP to rush to write a new “RTE constitution” is perhaps a reaction to the growing possibility of a change in MHP leadership. The internal party opposition in the MHP appears determined to force an extraordinary party convention that might open the way to a leadership change. Whether the MHP can become some sort of new hope for the center-right by moving towards the center and thus constitute a challenge to the AKP is of course something that will be seen in time. But, a leadership change in the MHP would be tragic for Erdoğan’s plans. After the heartbreaking adventure the Kurds suffered through by trusting Erdoğan, they most probably would not support the president in his grand ambitions. With the MHP out as well, it would be difficult for him to get the text through parliament. In any case, if the issue could be brought in front of the nation it must be obvious for everyone that Erdoğan and the government would be making best use of all state opportunities with the opposition facing serious difficulties to finance a campaign against it, and the nation will support what’s said by Erdoğan. Anyhow, almost all media outlets that might raise objections have either been placed under trustees and effectively domesticated or forced to retreat to a defensive corner, unable to say anything at all.
Could there be a new social democratic charter for a country where there is only one group participating in the project and all the rest are silenced one way or another?
Over the past decade institutions, terminologies, norms and values in this country have all been depleted of their names and functions. When Davutoğlu spoke about “supremacy of law” for example, this writer remembered the changes made repeatedly to the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in order to have a justice system more in tune with certain desires or a certain personality. When the prime minister talked about justice, for example, this writer remembered journalists dragged out of their premises, placed under court-appointed trustees, or the editor and Ankara representative of a newspaper currently on trial for writing news and risking life terms on charges they were members of a spy ring. When the prime minister talked about a “democratic and freedom-based constitution” can it be possible to not remember the clear and persistent violation of the current constitution at every moment by a power-obsessed mentality?
Worse, when the prime minister said the primary target of his government was “reliance and stability,” it was like a very bad joke. Under the current administration and thanks to its failed Kurdish opening as well as the Syria flip-flop failure, can anyone talk of reliance and stability in this country?
The rejection of tutelage must be something respected and saluted by everyone, but has the government under Davutoğlu managed to become a government immune of tutelage of the power-obsessed presidency ever since Erdoğan become the president?
Nothing can be permanent. Does anyone remember the names of all five generals of the 1980 coup?