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The Rigorous Constitutional

July 27, 2010

In the interest of having some news on our site during its soft launch, we realized we really ought to cover this Constitutional frenzy. Turkish Weekly has the best unbiased list of what Constitutional Amendments are being proposed and considered. Going over the list, it is a lot of what you’d expect. Let’s see what the futbolcu-in-chief is cooking up.

There are lots of indefensibly good things

The state would take measures against child abuse

some bare-faced political things

The 15th interim article in the Constitution would be abolished meaning that those involved in the Sept. 12, 1980, coup, including Kenan Evren, Nejat Tumer and Tahsin Sahinkaya, could be subject to trial.

and a whole chunk of things that could be either good or bad, depending on your value system and trust of the current governing party

Members of the military involved in criminal gangs or accused of coup attempts will be sent to civilian courts while military courts would only be permitted to hear military-related cases.

So the news is, expectantly, being spun by whomever in terms of what they want to happen, not what likely will happen.

Again, a lot isn’t surprising about the reporting. Nobody has told the US newsmedia that this isn’t quite an Islamicism-vs.-Military Junta sort of issue. Jamestown Foundation is discussing that this is really mostly loud noises, as often occurs ’round these parts. They, however, go on to use half the article to talk about headscarves before admitting that it doesn’t really matter that much and confessing ignorance to how the Turkish Higher Education system works.

However, it is very possible that, encouraged by the AKP’s attempts to lift the ban, some of the more conservative universities in Anatolia will begin to allow students in headscarves to attend classes. It is equally likely that, even if the headscarf ban is somehow lifted, some of the secularist universities will continue to apply it.

On the somewhat more plugged-in and rational side of things, Aengus Collins looks at the legal issues surrounding this (because, well, the constitution is a bit of a legal issue, something being ignored in other sources).

Mr. Collins has a more political focus than I do, and he writes about how the CHP is acting as though their birthright of dominating parliament has been sold for porridge. This is true, and there’s no need for me to parrot him.

What he doesn’t write as much about, and what I think is interesting, is the shuffle here in the balance-of-powers. Court-packing is nothing new, and was only cut down in the United States by a politically-motivated Supreme Court. My personal issue with it is that it just introduces more sluggishness in a system imbued with it. I don’t mean this in a “Just try and get 21 Turks to agree on anything, ho ho ho” sort of way. I mean this in a “If you’re going to try everybody in the Ergenekon case in a court full of 21 different appointees, good luck trying to get anything else done in preperation for the 2017 election cycle.” sort of way.

It isn’t that AKP is sinister and trying to sneak their agenda in on the Turkish populace by using this as a feint. I think that, just like any other political party in the history of ever, they want more power and more re-elections. The constitutional amendments shift the balance of powers towards parliament and away from the courts and the military. Should this occur? To a certain extent, well, sure. But not to the extent that the current portfolio demands.

But that’s the point of the political  process. This’ll be argued ad infitum, the newspapers will get their yell on…and some compromise will be reached. We’ll just be looking at what, exactly, that compromise will be.


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