Turkey's need for a new constitution and the economy

Published 29.04.2016 00:54

Turkey's discussion on a new constitution, which is using the framework of social consensus, and the relevant process in all its aspects, is certainly very important. Another important thing in this process is that all segments of society express their views. Demands and proposals from different segments of society are not a cause of political tension. Quite the contrary, the process of constitution drafting is a dynamic that can turn social polarization into consensus. Indeed, societies' need for consensus gives rise to the emergence of constitutions that are indeed the legal frameworks of social consensus. This being the case, constitutions emerge as a result of the reconciliation of different economic interests as legal texts that assign a regulatory task to states. Therefore, above anything else, we need to address the economic aspect of constitutions.

Turkey has experienced great trouble with its constitution in recent history. The existing Constitution posed many obstacles for the country on its way to establishing an outward-oriented and competitive economy and to fairly sharing the emerging added value, although they should have brought a constitutional guarantee for the achievement of all this.

A total of 35 percent of employment and 43.5 percent of added value in the Turkish manufacturing industry came from the public sector in the 1980s. Until this time, local capital circles, which were called Anatolian capital, were usually like the branches of great capital circles that were structured in and around Istanbul. The process of liberalization and financial openness that was initiated by former Prime Minister Turgut Özal during the 1980s did not only disturb the existing balances, but also paved the way for the 2001 crisis. The 2008 crisis was not a crisis for the entire world, but more for developed countries. Similarly, Turkey's 2001 crisis was the crisis of a capital circle that became rich by holding on to a self-enclosed and a semi-statist economy. Therefore, it was also a constitutional crisis that posed and is still posing many troubles for the Turkish economy. This is because segments that were the pioneers of a distorted and inadequate capital accumulation approached Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rule, which wanted to maintain the capital in a more extensive and comprehensive way, with suspicion and they strove to stop the party by relying on the existing constitution. All economic deadlocks and crises that have taken place in Turkey, especially since the early 2000s, must be termed as constitutional crises. During this period, Turkey faced major constitutional and bureaucratic troubles in privatizing public institutions and opening the economy up to the world. This is why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticizes bureaucratic oligarchy at every possible occasion. Obviously, if Turkey insists on the existing constitutional system, it will not avoid a new economic crisis, let alone be a welfare society. Therefore, capital circles that take legal strength from the Constitution of Sept. 12, which was issued after the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980, are far from fulfilling the conditions of a new global economy such as competition. Investment decisions are made in accordance with the codes of the past, which bear the dynamics of a new crisis. I think it would be very beneficial for Turkey to maintain discussions about a new constitution starting with this crucial economic basis. Here, we need to redefine the position and strength of the state in the economy.

The current constitution has an approach that restricts an open and competitive economy and the freedom of enterprise. Therefore, many economic constitutional institutions have lost their functions and are far from satisfying the requirements of the day. Turkey must aim for a constitution that highlights a welfare society, income equality and a fair economy. This new constitution must consist of few, but clear articles. Here is an important study to shed light on the matter in question. The study, which was conducted in 187 countries, reveals that per capita income declines nearly 3.5 percent when the scope of constitution is extended by 1 percent in countries with more than 20 million in population. Here, the word "scope" is used to explain the total number of concepts and subject headings in constitutions (Elkins, Ginsburg & Melton; 2009). When it comes to a broader group of countries with more than 10 million in population, a 1 percent rise in the scope leads to a decline of 2.5 percent in per capita income. This fall is around 2 percent when all 187 countries are considered. Moreover, this negative impact is higher in countries like Turkey. The impact of the constitution's scope on per capita income is around 4.5 percent in middle-income and upper middle-income countries, and around 2 percent in low-income and high-income countries.

The 1982 Constitution of Turkey ranks 27th in terms of the extensity of its scope and 46th in terms of the number of its words among 187 countries. Turkey must get rid of this pro-coup constitution, which was very thoroughly prepared to push society into an anti-democratic clamp. This is now an urgent historical and democratic need.

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