An important article entitled Turkey’s Constitutional Moment has recently written by Dr. Fevzi Bilgin in the Washington Review of Turkish and Eurasian Affairs. By arguing constitutional politics lies at the center of domestic changes in Turkey he has drawn attentions to the Constitutional Moment in the country which means it is the time to change some places of the old Constitution with the new one that could meet thedemands of the people. In order to share this informative work of Dr. Bilgin with the
US Representatives and their staffers, we as Turkic American Alliance invited him to the Congress and organized our one of the wonderful Congressional Talks.
In his speech, Dr. Fevzi Bilgin highlighted that the recent election was a successful democratic election in Turkey. Dr. Bilgin stated, in order to promote democratic initiatives and the development of the country, the old Constitution, written with the anti-democratic principles and under the Military rule, had to be changed. Dr. Bilgin says AKP’s project about the constitution became a sensational subject in the country however; AKP did not have enough seats in the parliament in order to pass through the legislation so AKP had to come to basis with other party members and work together.
Dr. Bilgin mentioned that election season in Turkey was brutal and was not a learning process. Theleaders kept talking about each other’s negative sides. On the other hand, there was a Turkish madecrisis right after the Crisis by the opposition party CHP, where the party members refused to swearthe oath in order to get in office. Dr. Bilgin listed the problems with the current Constitution as 1)approval rate was high for the current Constitution however people did not have enough information for who or what they were voting for; 2) One can lose their freedoms because they go againstthe ideologies of the current Constitution; 3) The current Constitution is arbitrary; 4) The current Constitution limits parts of the Constitution to be amended.
Secularism, unlike the American definition, in Turkey means that state will control religion. This creates lots of issues in Muslim populated countries. Therefore, he touched upon the right of religious freedom. Dr. Bilgin believes that in Turkey nationalism, very exclusive, denies any racethat is different than Turkish. The old regime made sure that everyone must say we are Turkish and there is no other if one wanted to live in Turkey and this brings out the Kurdish problems. Since the current Constitution was made under the military influence, the Parliament was only able to act freely on some cases however they had to ask the military for important decisions.
According to Political Scientists, a Constitutional moment comes when regime crisis or economic depression hits the country. On the other hand, Turkey had a quiet revolution. The regime crisis in 2007 put Turkey in Constitutional moment. Military warned AKP in 2007, basically saying be careful. AKP went to snap elections and increased their votes by fifty percent.
There were attempts to block AKP from participating in the government in 2009 however they needed one more vote which they could not receive. In 2010, there was a Constitutional reformwhich was approved by the people. For some this meant an enhanced democratic country and forothers not so much. Dr.Bilgin believes that the Parliamentary system in Turkey creates a weak executive who is underthe military power. Turkey, therefore is trying to move to a Presidential system. Dr. Bilgin says that the new Constitution will also guarantee freedom of religion and tt will not limit anyone’s religion.