Friday, May 11, 2007

A constitutional outrage

The Turkish Parliament has just passed a major constitutional reform package, allowing direct election of the president and shifting them from a single seven year term to a renewable five year one. These changes may be desirable, or they may not - it depends on what sort of constitutional framework the Turkish people want - but what's not desirable is the timing: just a few months before an election, itself forced by the government's inability to elect their own candidate as president. Going to the people in search of a new mandate and a larger majority is an appropriate and democratic response to this. But ramming through major constitutional changes at short notice is not. It smacks of an attempt to stack the deck, and is more reminiscent of the constitutional outrages practised in South America than in a supposedly European country.

Fortunately, the Turkish constitution has a few safeguards. One of these is the ability of the President to return legislation to Parliament for reconsideration, or to put it to referendum. Hopefully they'll do the latter. The shape of the Turkish constitution should be ultimately decided by the Turkish people - not by politicians maneuvering for electoral advantage.


I was going to blog on this. In many ways it could lead to better checks on the Turkish parliament, and victory for the secularists.

Posted by Lewis Holden : 5/11/2007 02:12:00 PM

Sure - and I favour direct election for presidents with these sorts of powers. But the way the AKP is doing it really stinks - it smacks of Berlusconi and Chavez. Taking it to a referendum would prevent it from affecting the upcoming elections, while also granting the reforms far more legitimacy.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/11/2007 02:45:00 PM