Modern Turkey is of course governed by the rule of law, yet it became obvious that a civilian democracy would further benefit from having a civilian inspired constitution, too. It is a logical consequence of the maturing of this successful nation-state and very successful functioning market economy.
What is promising in this regard is that the current government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan understands that although his administration enjoys enormous support within the electorate, the new constitution must reflect his country's diversity, “diversity” interpreted as including his political opponents, too.
What is even more promising is that Turkey's prime minister aims at involving civil society and not just legal experts or deputies during the final round of debates.
Turkey's new constitution needs to be a mirror image of the above-mentioned diversity, allowing for all forms of democratic aspirations and lifestyles to flourish whilst at the same time summing up the country's irrevocable legal norms and standards. This is where the drafting of a constitution turns delicate and tricky: How many “can dos” should be included versus how many “can't dos?” What type of a citizen or administration's activities should be curtailed or disallowed? Where does an individual citizen's personal freedom end, and where does the defense of collective freedoms begin? Let us today focus on the functionality of a constitution, earmarking individual article analysis for a later contribution.
Whereas it is probably correct to assume that a civilian constitution must allow for each segment of a country's society to be represented by this vital piece of law, it must, at the same time, come up with a definition of commonly accepted behavior. This in turn includes stipulations about what is intolerable. Let me give you an example.
Every citizen must have the right to go to court should something have gone awry. Think employment law; consider a case of unfair dismissal. A constitution will not provide the technicalities of, for example, employment law in the manufacturing sector. What the constitution will provide for, however, is the guarantee that there is a legal system in place which is transparent, fair and available to all citizens of that country regardless of personal wealth or station in society. The constitution will further allow for employees to form, and become member of, a trade union with the purpose of collective bargaining vis-à-vis employers.
If a country can be compared with a house, its constitution may be likened to its roof. Staying in this picture we understand that “roof” implies that there are certain limitations to what can happen on the floors below. Civilization entails that we shall not kill our next door neighbor over a parking dispute. We cannot take our boss hostage if above-mentioned employment matters go out of hand. And above all else we cannot plot to overthrow a democratically elected civilian government by means of inciting hatred or terrorist attacks.
If a constitution is “all-inclusive” -- and this definition “includes” not just rights but a citizen's obligations vis-à-vis the state he or she calls home, too -- few will resort to anarchy or terrorism. Ideally, both the house and its roof would allow for enough leeway so that each and every citizen becomes part of the wider family which makes a nation-state.
As a violent minority continues to confuse life in a developed society with being a playground for anarchy I must add that Turkey's new constitution will not eradicate domestic terrorism overnight; neither did Norway's constitution act as enough of a deterrence to prevent a mass murderer such as Anders Behring Breivik from committing his crimes nor was West Germany's Basic Law enough to prevent the rise of the Red Army Faction terrorist group.
What the new constitution will achieve, however, is to at once establish a much raised level of civic pride in all its citizens, which then would perhaps, over time, indeed achieve the seemingly impossible: to live in a society free from all terror, free from all domestic violence, free from all threats towards democracy.