constitutional reform debate
Ahmet Insel Cengiz Aktar Ayse Bugra Cuneyt Ulsever Murat Belge Osman Kavala Umit Cizre

Ahmet Insel

Cengiz Aktar

Ayse Bugra

Cuneyt Ulsever

Murat Belge

Osman Kavala

Umit Cizre

In the wake of the memorandum published by the Turkish General Staff on the night of 27 April 2007 one of the most important and strongly-worded reactions came from Turkish civil society. In a Citizens Declaration 500 well known civil society figures called the memorandum "a severe wound to our already limited democracy". They also put forward a concrete recommendation:

"The memorandum issued by the Office of the Chief of General Staff is an open threat to democracy and an offence according to the Law.

We, the citizens whose signature figures below openly oppose this memorandum!

The crisis we are going through in the political, economic and social fields is too deep to be solved with the election of the President of the Republic by the people (instead of the parliament). For, once voters will have elected their President, almost half of them will not be able to have their political preferences represented in Parliament, due to the current election system. With such a system, the crisis will continue, and new general elections will not solve the crisis but only postpone it for a short while.

The 12 September Regime has come to a complete stalemate

At the root of the problems we are faced with today lies the 1982 Constitution, itself a product of the 12 September (1980) military coup, and the system that the Constitution has set up. If Turkey is to lastingly overcome the crisis it is faced with, it must free itself as soon as possible of this Constitution."

Citizens' declaration - Memorandum by 500 well known Turkish academicians, artists, journalists, physicians, lawyers, and writers

Following the July elections, the debate on a new constitution has gained momentum.

Ergun Ozbudun, a political science professor at Ankara's private Bilkent University, has been preparing with a small team of academics a completely new constitution draft as announced right after the elections. The most striking suggestions by Ozbudun are:

  • to decrease the power of the president concerning the nomination of civil servants and diplomats
  • to dissolve the Board of Higher Education (YÖK), to have university rectors elected and to give universities autonomy
  • the number of the judges in the Supreme Court will be increased and judges should be partly elected by parliament (not merely by the president)
  • the National Security Council will no longer be an institution mentioned in the constitution
  • obligatory religious classes in schools, introduced in the wake of the 1980 coup, would be lifted

As Ozbudun stated in an interview with Radikal newspaper "there will be a reference to Ataturk and his ideals of modernization, but the ideology of the six arrows won't be in the constitution. If a constitution sides with one ideology this might cause serious problems."

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