Democratization and the Politics of Constitution-Making in Turkey

Democratization and the Politics of Constitution-Making in Turkey

Ergun Özbudun
Ömer Faruk Gençkaya
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 156
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Democratization and the Politics of Constitution-Making in Turkey
    Book Description:

    Explores and illustrates how domestic and international factors shape the direction of democratization process with special reference to constitution making process in Turkey. Describes how all five Turkish constitutions were, by and large, the products of indigenous effort, although borrowing could be felt in certain limited areas. Argues that the constitutional reforms in the post-1983 period were the outco me of broad inter-party negotiations and agree ments as a response to the society’s demands for a more democratic and liberal political system. Finally, the constitutional revisions adopted since 1995 were strongly conditioned by Turkey’s hope of accession to the European Union. With these reforms, Turkey was successful in meeting the political criteria and started accession negotiations with the EU.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-69-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Constitution-making, particularly during democratic transitions, is an excellent opportunity to build political institutions that will enjoy broad support from society and its political (and other) elites. Both the constitution-making process and its outcome (i.e., constitutional choices) are crucial aspects of the transition to and consolidation of democracy. Andrea Bonime-Blanc has argued that

    constitution-making is at once the most varied and the most concentrated form of political activity during the transition. In it, political maneuvering, bargaining and negotiations take place and the political positions, agreements and disagreements between groups and leaders come to the fore. How the constitution drafters handle these...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The History of Constitution-Making in Turkey
    (pp. 7-30)

    As indicated above, the beginnings of constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire can be traced back to the nineteenth century.¹ The first constitutional document of dubious legal value was the Deed of Alliance (Sened-i İttifak) signed in 1808 between the representatives of local notables (âyan) and those of the central government. In the document the notables affirmed their loyalty to the central government in exchange for recognition of their traditional privileges. The document also stipulated that the Chief Minister would be responsible for the state affairs. Although the interpretations comparing the Deed of Alliance with the Magna Carta are highly exaggerated,...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Initial Changes, 1987–1995
    (pp. 31-42)

    The 1982 Constitution—written under the aegis of the military, excluding all political parties and other institutions of civil society, and approved by a highly dubious referendum—became a matter of public debate and contention almost from the moment of its adoption. The MP, however, which was the majority party between November 1983 and October 1991, did not seem to favor major constitutional revisions. Turgut Ozal, Prime Minister and the leader of the MP, often expressed the view that the new institutions created by the 1982 Constitution should be given a chance to function for a time before amendments could...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Constitutional Amendments under EU Conditionality 1998–2006
    (pp. 43-72)

    Having a democratic political system that respects fundamental human rights has always been one of the most important prerequisites to become a full member of the EU. Since the Birkelbach Report (1962) of the Political Committee of the European Parliament, which specified the condition of democracy for eventual membership,¹ the Union has developed a comprehensive human rights policy for its external relations, and a well-developed democratic conditionality that specifies the main criteria that must be complied with to become a EU member state. Even though it has not been clearly demonstrated and outwardly stipulated in the official documents of the...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Harmonization Packages and Other Legislative Reforms
    (pp. 73-80)

    Between February 2002 and July 2004, the GNAT adopted Nine “harmonization packages,” not counting other major legislative reforms such as the adoption of a new Civil Code, the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Law on Associations. The reason they were commonly called “packages” was that each one of them involved changes in a number of laws. The purpose was to harmonize Turkish legislation with the constitutional amendments of 2001 and 2004, as well as with the acquis communautaire as part of Turkey’s efforts to become a full member of the EU. While some of these changes...

  8. CHAPTER 5 EU Conditionality and Democratization Process in Turkey
    (pp. 81-96)

    In the nineteenth century, the basic conceptualizing of the Turks concerning state, society, nature, and human beings radically changed. The Ottoman statesmen and intelligentsia recognized the European supremacy in every field of life, and the Turkish avocation of Europeanization/ Westernization had already started. The attempts at Europeanization/Westernization of the country were intensified under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his friends after they created the modern Republic of Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

    Without doubt, Turkey will have reached the zenith of Europeanization when it is incorporated by the European states and attains EU membership. Turkey, for at...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Constitutional Crisis of 2007–2008 and the Search for a New Constitution
    (pp. 97-112)

    The search for an entirely new constitution was triggered by the constitutional crisis in the spring of 2007 over the question of the presidency. At the end of Prezident Sezer’s term of office, the governing JDP seemed to have enough votes in the parliament to elect its own candidate. Indeed, the Constitution of 1982 (Art. 102) clearly described the procedures for the election of the president, according to which a maximum number of four parliamentary rounds are foreseen for the election. The decisional quorum is two-thirds of the full membership of the Assembly on the first two rounds, and the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 113-116)

    In most democratic transitions, such consensus over constitutional norms was achieved through “elite settlements” or “elite convergence.” While elite settlements refer to sudden and deliberate negotiated compromises among warring elite functions “that precede or are coterminous An important aspect of democratic consolidation is the emergence of a widely shared consensus over constitutional norms, i.e., the rules of the game. Thus, argue Linz and Stepan, “constitutionally, a democratic regime is consolidated when governmental and nongovernmental forces alike, throughout the territory of the state, become subjected to, and habituated to, the resolution of conflict within the specific laws, procedures, and institutions sanctioned...

  11. APPENDIX 1. Checklist on the Status of Legislative Changes in the Political Criteria Section of the 2001 and 2003 National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis
    (pp. 117-127)
  12. APPENDIX 2. Laws Adopted by the EU Harmonization Packages
    (pp. 128-134)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 135-142)
  14. Index
    (pp. 143-147)