Old elite's war on civil constitution

Last, but not least, we have been discussing and arguing about the civil constitution for the last two decades. So why do we need to slow down the process?

Old elite's war on civil constitution
By İhsan Yılmaz, Today's Zaman

Two weeks ago I wrote in this column that the government must act very quickly in preparing a civil constitution while the impact of election results do not fade away, as the bureaucratic oligarchy and the old elite will revive their attempts to protect their undemocratic privileges as soon as possible. They have proved that they are faster and more brazen-faced than I could possibly imagine. A quick scan of the newspapers shows their desperate demagogical, if unskillful, attempts at saving their undemocratic status. They still use pre-July 22 rhetoric: the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will divide the country, the new constitution is selling the country out, secularism will disappear, etc., only showing that they either have not learned their lesson or sincerely believe that the people are indeed naïve. In their dreams.

As I wrote before, their rhetoric of conciliation and consensus either means sheepishly following them or wasting time so that enthusiasm or opportunity will disappear. And this is exactly what they are doing now. All the old elite or their mouthpieces are arguing that preparing a constitution is a very serious issue and the government should not be hasty. If we look at the people who defend this, we see that they are almost all composed of white Turks, members of the old elite and bureaucratic oligarchy, "anti-populist" media and their political representative CHP who all rallied against the presidency of Mr. Gül and so-called clear and present danger posed to secularism and the unity of the country by the governing AK Party. The people's answer was crystal clear. The old elite's party only received 20 percent of the vote, while the AK Party attracted almost half.

Yet these very same people have now staged a war against the new civil constitution with a hope that if its preparation is delayed, the AK Party may eventually lose power and may have to agree to a modus vivendi constitution between the old elite and the people. Even today some of them, including some white Turkish political scientists, implausibly argue that a constitution is a contract between the state and the people. This might be their attempt at an original contribution to political science theory, an attempt that would make Rousseau turn in his grave!

Anyway. Conciliation and consensus are nice concepts but can anyone really reach a consensus with the old elite? Any democratic development will definitely undermine their privileged status and that is the only reason they even betrayed their own vision and dream of joining the EU. They have also betrayed their well-established tradition of respecting the head of state and commander-in-chief by not saluting or addressing him properly just because this person was not virtually appointed by them -- as happened several times with previous presidents -- but democratically elected by the people's representatives. Even if we are ready to forget all these democratic immaturities and childish displays, the white Turkish media's headlines approving of these behaviors, let alone questioning them, will always be in the archives. Why should we trust these people now and delay preparing the constitution?

Preparing a constitution is not rocket science. We have been emulating the contemporary civilization, i.e., the Western world, for at least the last 200 years and every country in the West has a constitution. We even have a tradition dating back to the 18th century Ottomans of transplanting laws from the West. Moreover, we have several law faculties staffed with many constitutional law experts who can easily make their views public in this age. Last, but not least, we have been discussing and arguing about the civil constitution for the last two decades. So why do we need to slow down the process?

The AK Party very clearly declared that even if the new constitution is accepted by every member of Parliament, they will take it to a referendum and the people will have the final say. So, what seems to be the problem? Democracy?
Last Mod: 16 Eylül 2007, 16:09
Add Comment