[email protected]

June 03, 2011, Friday

Constitutional lies

The Economist has joined the camp that obscures efforts to democratize the country. The weekly asks Turks to vote for the Republican People's Party (CHP) for a more democratic Turkey. It seems that its reporters have lost their sense of objectivity and the weekly is unable to check the accuracy of its reporting.

For instance, the weekly claims that current CHP leader “Mr. [Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu has been attracting more supporters than Mr. [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan to election rallies in the mainly Kurdish Southeast, where the CHP has long been weak.” Really? That is news to me. In the small city of Hakkari, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu attracted more listeners but it was later revealed that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) political wing, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), had sent its supporters to the rally to upset Mr. Erdoğan. In the biggest Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, Mr. Erdoğan attracted tens of thousands, while Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to only 1,500 people. The weekly claims that if the AK Party has the power to change the Constitution, it will not be a democratic constitution, as the AK Party will not negotiate with the CHP and Mr. Erdoğan will establish his autocracy by changing the system into a semi-presidential one.

Let us start with the CHP. The Economist may not be able to see it, but it is the party of the bureaucratic oligarchy resisting democratization. The CHP has confirmed its commitment to the bureaucratic oligarchy by nominating Ergenekon suspects. Almost all of the writers, columnists and opinion makers who are associated with the oligarchy continue to support the CHP. Kemalists, ultra-secularists, ultra-nationalists, sworn EU enemies, military generals and İstanbul business tycoons who have benefitted from the status quo are still staunch CHP supporters. Will this CHP ever allow the system to change? So far, they have made every attempt stop change with all sorts of excuses and pretexts. Their voter base does not demand it. Unlike what the Economist claims, almost everyone agrees that the CHP will not get votes from the Kurds. More than 30 percent of the electorate supports military involvement in politics and one does not need to be an oracle to say that almost all of them are CHP voters. Why would they want a new constitution that will send the army to its barracks once and for all, especially when they claim that Mr. Erdoğan will turn into an autocrat? All in all, there is no plausible claim that the CHP will be in favor of a more democratic constitution. There is no way that the AK Party can convince them to change. Thus, why should Turks vote for the CHP for a more democratic Turkey, the Economist says?

The other fabrication disguised as analysis is that a new constitution is the same as a presidential system. Why is that? There are many AK Party members and supporters who oppose that. President Abdullah Gül does not want it, neither does Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Bülent Arınç. At the Abant Platform several weeks ago, it was made clear that constitutional deliberations should not overshadowed by discussions of a presidential system. Mr. Erdoğan himself stated that he wants this issue to be discussed in the public sphere, but it is obvious that he will not try to force his will on the people, which may backfire for him.


Second, and most importantly, if what the staunch AK Party enemies claim is true, Mr. Erdoğan is already a king. They claim that with the new constitutional changes on Sept. 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court is in the hands of the AK Party. The president is a former AK Party member and an old friend of Erdoğan. The army is speechless and, as Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu keeps repeating, if the generals talk it will benefit the AK Party, showing that the people are fed up with politician generals. So, from a CHP perspective, if they believe their own accusations, we do not have a system of checks and balances now and, similar to the British prime minister, Mr. Erdoğan is potentially an autocrat. Being president will only diminish his power. If he wants to be an autocrat, he will not touch the Constitution, but he cannot do that, as he promised the democratic forces in this country that he would demilitarize the system, democratize the Constitution and deliver a new constitution with universal liberal democratic standards in full accord with human rights, freedoms and liberties.

I do not know about Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu but I know for sure that these are all nightmares for his voter base and supporters in the oligarchy.

Previous articles of the columnist