Parliament lags behind civil society in dialogue

Parliament lags behind civil society in dialogue

Emine Kart ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament lags behind civil society in dialogue

Turkish Parliament does not pay attention to the civil society’s work as much as the civil society follows the Parliament’s work, according to a report.

Members of the Parliament have not heeded their relationship with civil society, at least not to the same extent that civil society heeds and follows the Parliament’s work, a progress report concerning a civil initiative aimed at building a bridge between civil society and lawmakers has revealed.

The report reviewed the last five-year period of work by the initiative, which is now anticipating the response from party leaders which it hopes will be to encourage their own party members to regularly attend the initiative’s meetings during the upcoming legislative year. 

“[…] If we take the fact that parliamentarians’ participation rate [the difference between the total number of parliamentarians required to participate and those who do participate] generally fluxes between 5 percent and 10 percent; saying that ‘politics is not taking the civil society highly seriously and is regarding efforts in this vein as acts of fantasy’ is not an exaggeration,” said prominent human rights activist Şanar Yurdatapan, who led the initiative called Small National Assemblies of Turkey (TkMM), which released the report. 

Decision making process ‘top-down’ in Turkey

Transforming decision-making mechanisms in Turkey which function “top-down” toward a shape functioning “bottom-up,” will be a task requiring herculean effort and will take time, said the report released on Sept. 20.

“This is because parliamentarians feel indebted to their party leaders for putting them on the list of candidates, rather than feeling indebted to the electorate whose votes they received,” according to the report. 

Yurdatapan, in remarks delivered to the Hürriyet Daily News over the weekend, particularly underlined the experience of many lawmakers who had willingly participated in their meetings and left those meetings with feelings of contentment due to their participation. These lawmakers were immune to the criticism voiced in this report, he indicated.

“At the point that we have reached after five years, civil society has displayed its will on this issue with an approximate five-year participation rate of 58.8 percent,” Yurdatapan said.

“Now the ball is in the court of the politicians, the approximate five-year participation rate of whom is only 6.43 percent,” he added.

“From now on, we expect political party leaders to make their decisions on this issue; and if their eventual decision about the work by the initiative is positive, then we would expect them to encourage regular attendance from their parliamentarians and mayors through declaring their positive approach both to the public and to their party organizations,” Yurdatapan said, calling on the party leaders to take a shortcut and simply send this positive message by attending the TkMM meetings, which will be launched Oct. 4-5-6, in any province of their choosing. 

The TkMM meetings will be held in Bursa, Kocaeli, the Bodrum resort town of Muğla and Sakarya on Oct. 4; in Adana, Adıyaman, Ankara, Batman, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Eskişehir, Hatay, Iğdır, Kayseri, Malatya, Mersin, Muş and Şanlıurfa on Oct. 5; and in Istanbul on Oct.6.