According to newspaper reports, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has prepared the draft for a "civil constitution" to replace the one created by the military junta of 1982. The draft, presented to Prime Minister Erdogan, reduces the powers of the president and redefines sovereignty and citizenship.
Parties of the left have listed the requirements of a constitution and have expressed their discomfort at the fact that the AKP is preparing a constitution by itself.
Levent Tüzel, chairperson of the Labour Party (EMEP), Aydemir Güler, chairperson of the Turkey Communist Party (TKP), Ufuk Uras, MP for the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), and Nurettin Demirtas, co-chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) spoke to bianet. Their main concern was "democracy".
Facing up to and breaking with 12 September
Tüzel: The 1982 constitution is a coup constitution. It is a constitution which rejects the right to life, human rights and freedoms. It limits the legal rights of the peoples of Turkey, as well as their rights to vote and be elected and trade union rights. This constitution allows the Turkish Armed Forces to intervene in the name of safeguarding [the Republic]. This must change. The National Security Council (MGK) must be abolished, not the state but the citizen must be used as a base. The constitution must not be based on the concept of the "Turkish nation".
Güler: If we want more democracy, we must first settle scores with the 12 September [military coup]. Changing the constitution is not enough. For 25 years, parties of the order, and now the AKP, have made all attempts to protect the constitutional status quo. A discussion without 12 September is incomplete.
Uras: It is vital to break radically with the 12 September constitution. The new constitution must be a simple text which includes social and economic rights and uses democratic and human rights as its base.
Demirtas: The discrimination against differences (of language, religion, religious order, ethnicity) in the constitution must be ended. There must be a redefinition of citizenship and of state-individual relations. The demands of workers, trade union rights, equal opportunities in education and health must be guaranteed and not be dependent on the whim of different governments.
Can the AKP design a "civil" constitution?
Tüzel: I don't believe the AKP draft includes democracy. If this is a social contract, then it must be discussed by all strata of society and organisations. The AKP does not show such an intention. An exclusionary party cannot prepare a democratic constitution.
Güler: A party which does not have any problems with 12 September cannot show the necessary sensitivity. We must look for progress in human rights to the Turkish people, not to the AKP.
Uras: If the constitution is supposed to be civil, then it must encompass all social strata and demands. If the AKP only brings the finished product, then the search for a new constitution will continue. This opportunity must be grasped.
Demirtas: If we look at the signals sent so far and the past policies of the AKP, this draft will not be satisfactory. Up to now the AKP has not displayed the mentality which sees difference as enrichment. The constitution they prepare will reflect this. (GG/EÜ/AG)