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Turkey

Turkey’s New Constitution Blocked By Past Battles

Op-Ed: Though politicians from all corners have declared their desire for a new Constitution, they all slip back into outdated rhetoric when it comes time to hash out the words to help build Turkey’s future.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised, but not yet delivered a new Constitution
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised, but not yet delivered a new Constitution
Ismet Berkan

Forget if you will the daily political disagreements, the jailed members of Parliament and the removal of some MPs from their elected positions. In fact, if possible, forget the differences among the political parties and the animosities they have from the past. Instead, just remember this: the main parties represented in the Parliament all promised the same thing during the election: a new Constitution for Turkey.

Obviously the ruling Justice and Progress Party (JPP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) and the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (PDP) all have their own unique perception of a new Turkish Constitution. However, each of these three parties have come to the same conclusion: the Constitution passed in 1982, following after the 1980 coup d"état is not sufficient for dealing with the today's political situation.

If nothing else, the current Constitution is the text that forms the foundation of the main political arguments that actually limit personal freedoms in Turkey, especially the freedoms of speech and political organization. Therefore, in order to escape from the environment in which limitations of intellect are enforced upon us, we have to (so to speak) "purify our souls' from this Constitution. In other words, some of us must start to think beyond the boundaries of this 30-year-old document. Our brains need to be free in order to write a new Constitution.

And this is the point where I partially lose hope. Whether it be the discussions regarding the elected MPs in jail or Hatip Dicle's post in Parliament being annulled, there are no new ideas being brought forth to solve these situations. Starting with the Justice and Development Party, all the parties are talking about current political problems under the confines (and limitations) of the old Constitution.

Especially Prime Minister Erdogan and his JPP party, which had been expected to drive the creation of a new Constitution, still use the old, outdated religiously conservative language of the opposition from the debates back in 1982.

Meanwhile, the leading opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) is similarly guilty in using dated ideas and language. Instead of developing a new legal liberalistic argument to deal with two of their MPs who have been imprisoned, RPP seems to support the idea of privilege stating, "Well, two of our MPs are great men and were elected and chosen from on high for high office so the court has to release them immediately."

The party that does not seem to have a dog in this fight is the Nationalist Movement Party (NMP), even though it too has one of their MPs in jail.

Finally, the most serious is the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (PDP), which depends on the old political situation in Turkey to fling and scatter political threats.

My advice is this: All the political actors should stop and think for a moment and ask themselves, "Why did we want a new Constitution in the first place?" Turkey cannot write a new Constitution if we continue to approach it from the perspectives of the past.

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