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December 11, 2012, Tuesday

Dashed hopes for constitution

Turkey has been holding its breath to have a civilian and democratic constitution since the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which was established with huge expectations and high motivation, started its work last year.

 Although the commission set the goal of completing its task by the end of 2012, it now seems like it will continue until May 2013.

Taha Akyol from Hürriyet says it is obvious that the people’s hopes for a new constitution have been increasingly diminishing. But what we need to focus on now is the question of why we’ve failed to have a new constitution even though everyone approves and wants this and we have Cemil Çiçek, a respected, reasonable and politically mature parliament speaker, leading the commission. Akyol says: “Is it the military or the judiciary that is hampering the drafting process? Are nongovernmental organizations reacting against the new constitution? No. There is only one reason behind our failure to draft a new constitution: Our conflicting political culture. We expect the political parties that turn every parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday into demonstrations of power to draft a constitution that they, as well as the public, will all come to a consensus on. This seems almost impossible.”

Akyol adds that constitutional historians often speak of two typical examples: One is the endless fights over the constitution in France, where the country’s regime was changed five times after the revolution and 16 “constitutional crises” were witnessed in the country. The other example is the US Constitution, which was drafted in 1787 with a consensus among all states within the country and has been preserved with only small amendments made so far. That said, our nature can be said to be similar to the one of France and our problem has mainly to do with our country’s social-cultural process of evolution.

It is a sin to miss out on an opportunity to draft a constitution without any pressure from the military for the first time in our country, Sabah’s Mehmet Barlas says. Of course the ruling party is responsible for the failure of drafting a new constitution. But the conflicting nature of our politics has a greater responsibility. Our dream for a brand new constitution will only come true if we start choosing reconciliatory language instead of conflicting language and tolerance instead of intolerance, he notes.

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