The necessity for a new constitution in Turkish politics

Published 27.05.2016 21:06

In a nation-wide study conducted by the GENAR Research Institute in May, participants were asked about their expectations for a new constitution. Normally, citizens do not express opinions about a constitutional issue, which is generally considered an intellectual field. Yet, it is curious that in this study, conducted with more than 5,000 participants, 65-70 percent of the informants supported a new constitution.

People know that the present constitution was established during a period of military rule and political parties usually give the space to the popular demand for a new constitution in their election campaigns and bulletins. The Turkish electorate is highly political to such an extent that they are immensely concerned in world affairs.

In the study, participants were asked how they would vote if an election were held today. The results of the hypothetical election are as follows: 49-50 percent participants voted for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), 24-25 percent for the Republican People's Party (CHP), 12-13 percent for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and 9-10 percent for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). In spite of these varied results for the political parties, the demand for a new constitution stems not only from the grassroots of the AK Party, but from those of other political parties as well. Still, the greatest support for a new constitution was seen in the grassroots of the AK Party. After the AK Party, the demand for a new constitution is greatest respectively among HDP and CHP supporters, and although the CHP demands the least possible level of political change, the demand of the CHP's grassroots for a new constitution is around 40 percent.

The secret behind the AK Party's electoral success is its capability and willingness to deal with popular problems, to prioritize the urgent ones, and to resolve them one by one. As the AK Party continues to gradually resolve such problems, the electorate in turn continues to strengthen support for the ruling political party.

The AK Party has been highly successful in making improvements in the fields of public service, such as service accessibility in the health sector, increased liberties and social rights, the improvement of transportation, increased housing construction, the amelioration of livings conditions of handicapped people, better schooling, improved usage of technology and greater investments in the defense industry and economic administration. Thus, the AK Party has rightfully become Turkey's center party.

Regarding the issue of a new constitution, the AK Party does not have a sufficient number of seats in Parliament to change the constitution. Yet, as the opposition parties treat the present issue in a highly ideological way, they do not support the constitution change despite the strong demand from their supporters.

Of all the political parties, the HDP needs the constitutional change more than any other. The people of the region have certain demands that can only be addressed after comprehensive constitutional change. Despite these popular demands, the HDP continues to support the terrorist activities in Turkey and to promote certain terrorist organizations.

In a study conducted before June 7, we asked whether participants wanted the HDP to pass the electoral threshold and 16 percent answered in the affirmative. When we asked whether they supported the AK Party getting the parliamentary voting power required for constitutional change, 65 percent also answered that they did. Therefore, most voters, including HDP supporters, want the AK Party to become able to make constitutional change. Although a high level of demand for a new constitution exists among the electorate, and especially in the eastern and southeastern regions, the opposition political parties are turning a deaf ear to this popular demand. Only the ruling AK Party seems to struggle for the establishment of a new constitution.

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