Turkey’s constitutional agenda is based on a widespread social dynamism that goes beyond daily political discussions. Universities, intellectuals, journalists, civil society organizations, professional organizations and civilian platforms have been formed to discuss and deliberate with regard to a new constitution. They are seeking grounds for consensus with respect to this constitution. Recommendations are being made. They are referring these recommendations to the parliamentary commission on a new constitution.
A recent report by the İstanbul Policy Center is an important study that represents this dynamism. This report, which seeks to contribute to the efforts to make a new constitution by focusing on the system of checks and balances on the constitutional level, puts emphasis upon the judicial, legislative, political party and election systems. The issues and resolutions handled within the sphere of reform are considered under the logic of checks and balances. The study, supported by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is highly representative of Turkey. A total of 120 people from civil society organizations, professional organizations, political parties, academics, journalists and bureaucrats have contributed to this report. The list of participants shows that the contributors represent the political and intellectual spectrum of Turkey.
The report is based on the assumption that democratic institutionalization has not improved sufficiently in Turkey and that it is for this reason that democratic culture has not emerged in the country. In the constitutional reform, the necessary checks and balances mechanisms that should be introduced to the system for the smooth operation of democracy are discussed. For the constitutional checks and balances mechanisms, the recommendations widely held by the 120 participants are listed. The less popular recommendations are also affixed.
Judicial reform, which is referred to in the report, is the most important constitutional discussion in Turkey. The existence of structural problems in this field is evidenced by the frequent clashes and problems between the government and the bureaucracy. The report focuses on the separate checks for each sector. As might be expected, the common denominator is transparency. The surveillance of all these constitutional fields by society, the improvement of the mechanisms that would ensure the inspection of this system and further transparency for all this are the primary recommendations for a solution. To this end, the solutions offered for judicial independence and impartiality become more relevant and important.
Comprehensive reports that require expertise and technical competence like the one published by the İstanbul Policy Center can be seen as providing supporting elements to those who exert efforts toward a new constitution. The discussion on the new constitution is a permanent and strong agenda item. The issue is whether this agenda will be converted into a sufficiently political agenda. Will the government extend full support to this constitution that would restrict its powers? Will the opposition own up to this agenda by getting rid of its reluctant stance? Otherwise, the studies being carried out concerning a certain rate of democratic maturity prove that Turkey has made significant progress.