Top judge slams Charter efforts, says method adopted by parties undemocratic
KONYA - Doğan News Agency
The head of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, Haşim Kılıç slammed the Parliament's constitution-making process as 'undemocratic.' AA photoThe head of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, Haşim Kılıç, has slammed the failure of the Parliament’s effort to draft a new Charter in unprecedentedly harsh remarks, also accusing the political parties of engaging in methods that are no different with the ones adopted by the military coup regime in preparing the current 1982 Constitution.
“The elections are approaching. I wonder how they will run and explain why the promises given during the 2011 elections [are not accomplished]. To be honest, I see ourselves as people who have been cheated with the promise of marriage,” Kılıç said during an event at Karatay University in Konya on Nov. 22.
Kılıç emphasized Turkey lacks a culture of constitution-making based on the consultation of civil society and that every Constitution has been prepared by political leaders. He also criticized the method selected by Parliament through the establishment of the Constitution Conciliation Commission, which was not fully democratic.
“In order to draft a truly democratic Constitution, those who will draft the Constitution should be selected democratically. This could be through a constituent assembly or a parliament. Unless the Constitution is not prepared with a method that complies with democracy, it is impossible to talk about a democratic Constitution,” Kılıç said, arguing the current constitution-drafting process was similar in its logic with the “making of” of the current Constitution by the military-junta led government in 1982.
Law on political parties and elections should be drafted first
“Who drafted the 1982 Constitution? [Former coup chief and president] Kenan Evren and five of his friends. The junta staged a coup, then prepared a Constitution and asked the people to approve it,” Kılıç said, urging the draft of a new legislation on political parties and elections as a priority.
“And what’s happening today? There is a Parliament once again formed by the will of the political party leaders and deputies chosen by them. What difference is there between what Kenan Evren used to write it and those [leaders] say for God’s sake. For a Parliament to be formed properly, serious laws on political parties and elections have to be prepared. It’s only in this way that you can have a truly democratic [method]. Otherwise, it’s impossible,” Kılıç said.
He added that an agreement on only 60 articles after two years of intense negotiations was far from an achievement.
“These are not articles impossible to agree upon. Even if you would bring Kenan Evran, he would have written the same ones. He even did so by means of transferring articles from the ones of the European Convention of Human Rights. The problems are about the limitations of freedoms. These could have been revised and there was no need of such effort in agreeing upon 60 articles,” he said.
Kılıç also criticized the Constitution Commission, saying even each parties’ own representatives could not agree among themselves.
Powers of president should stay ‘symbolic’
Commenting on the first election of the president through popular elections, Kılıç advised to define the function’s powers as symbolic in order to avoid a clash of legitimacy with Parliament.
“If you can’t change the Constitution and make the transition to a semi-presidential system, you should define the president’s powers as symbolic. Otherwise, disputes are inevitable,” he warned.
Kılıç’s statements come as Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who also heads the commission, expressed his pessimism about the future of the drafting process, adding the two-year-long efforts only showed that it was impossible for the four parties in Parliament to agree on a new Constitution.