Turkey's democratic transformation

Published 05.08.2016 21:09

The steps that have been taken after the attempted coup of July 15 are certainly the most transformative steps in Turkey's recent history. This is a democratic revolution process that was initiated by the public resistance to the attempted coup on the night of July 15. Certainly, this is a first in the world's democratic history. For instance, a group of Francisco Franco soldiers raided the Spanish Congress of Deputies in 1981 in an attempt to stage a coup; however, they failed. The attempted coup in Spain could not be repelled by such comprehensive resistance. In Turkey, however, the most comprehensive resistance in Turkish history developed and a broad consensus was formed against the coup.

Therefore, we need to look at the social legitimacy, rather than the legal basis of the reforms that are being launched in this process. The public supports democratic reforms that are being carried out with the public's power today. In this regard, we can assess this process as the restructuring and democratization of the Turkish state.

We can suggest that there are two basic historical phases regarding the restructuring of the Turkish state in recent history. First is the process that started with the Tanzimat in 1839 when the West's influence and determination prevailed. Rather than a process of modernization for Turkey, the Tanzimat paved the way for the administration of the Ottoman Empire with a colonialist understanding and created a bureaucracy that worked in a way that was distant from the country's realities.

Some ideologues argue that the Tanzimat was a process of restructuring for the Ottoman state to resolve the "Eastern Question." After a while those who supported the Tanzimat faced an Abdul Hamid question.

I wrote the following sentences before July 15: "The Tanzimat era that started in the Ottoman Empire in 1839 was certainly a process of the resolution of Eastern Question for the West, in other words, it was a process of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. This would mean the attenuation of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa in all respects and aimed to create a domestic bureaucracy that would be dependent on the West and that would act independently from the sultan's will. Before the Sultan Abdul Hamid era, Abdülmecid's and Abdulaziz's administrations were a period when sultans had limited authority and the true rulers of the state were Western-oriented ministers and a Western-dependent bureaucracy. Abdul Hamid waged the greatest struggle of his rule against this bureaucracy." Here, let us note that one of the greatest struggles for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is targeted by the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and its fascistic supporters, has been the bureaucratic oligarchy that emerged with the Tanzimat.

We can suggest that the second phase of the restructuring of the state in recent history started with the Republic in 1923; however, this process did not qualitatively break away from 1839. Both dates basically differ from each other on laicism. The state, as well as state bodies, institutions and functioning, broke away from religious references. Especially, the Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) official ideology and structuring very clearly reflected a new and secular "modernism." This ideology first undertook the formation of the state and then society. In other words, the TSK was anti-democratic in a sense, but it pretended to be Western-oriented and turned into a structure that hid its anti-democratic and pro-coup tendencies. All the institutions and educational bodies in the military were built on this basis. Military high schools and war academies handed down this ideology, a pro-coup tradition, which should have remained in the previous century, to the next generations by further consolidating it. FETÖ seized this pro-coup tradition in its long period of organization and took action on July 15. If we fail to eliminate this tradition, another organization apart from FETÖ might seize this realm and push us to another July 15. In this regard, the attempted coup of July 15 has brought the recovery and restructuring of the Turkish state following 1839 and 1923. However, it will bring a process that qualitatively differs from both.

For instance, now Turkey is founding a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), which is a very important step for Turkey's economic safety. This is because Turkey needs to be economically brought to its knees as well in order to finalize an attempted coup like July 15. Today, global financial attacks and operations are a serious reason for crisis and a security risk for developing countries. The reserves and monetary policies of central banks might be inefficient in this process and a path toward a deep systemic crisis is opened by destabilizing the monetary and financial markets of countries. Therefore, many countries have formed welfare funds. However, in order to prevent the founding of such "economic safety" institutions in developing countries, dominant economic doctrines stipulate some conditions, suggesting that it would be problematic to found them irrespective of these conditions. For instance, they have begun saying that countries that want to found these funds against global financial attacks must absolutely have external surplus, be a net exporter of a natural resource that always brings in foreign exchange and must not have a problem with the investment-saving gap.

Turkey will found this welfare fund based on contemporary financing systems. The fund will contribute to Turkey's savings and enable it to more efficiently evaluate national resources. It will also create a resource for public infrastructure investments away from the budget. This will contribute to the budget, bring up exports and relieve the external deficit by creating economic externality. With a SWF, Turkey will find a very strong financing model aside from using the budget and practicing a build-operate-transfer model for big infrastructure investments. Moreover, the model will continuously bring in revenues through securitization. Turkey will bring a different perspective on privatization and privatization revenues. In other words, Turkey will more efficiently evaluate its resources and potential and become the safest and the most stable country in the region in all aspects through this democratic transformation and revolution.

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