While the AK Party promises a more democratic and pluralist constitution if it wins the elections, Western analysts tend to be skeptical because of their ultimate bias toward President Erdoğan
Just a few days away from the election, the interest of the Western media in Turkey has intensified. Of course, we cannot say that this interest is very ordinary for the pre-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) period in Turkey. Turkey used to come to the fore because of the accidents involving the death of dozens of people, or because of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Yet, today, whether a stable government will be established or not and whether ethno-nationalist parties will gain power in Parliament or not directly concerns the Western world. It is suspected that a parliament where ethno-nationalism rules will have a disruptive effect. This is normal because stability in Turkey directly concerns Western investors. The direct foreign investors and Turkey's geographical position on the energy roads have earned it the position of being an energy hub. Therefore, the existence of a stable government in Turkey is of vital importance. While the continuity of stability ensures trust for investments, it is obvious that a coalition government will create risks.
Without doubt, it is not easy to say this for the countries whose systems are consolidated. Although the quality of the governments is important in such countries, it does not become a vital matter for the country. Whether the government will be one-party or coalition, or whether it will be long-lived or short-lived does not affect life much. One of the reasons for this deep interest of the Western media indicates that it sees the fact that stability in Turkey stems more from the power of the party than from the system. In effect, there is not much drastic systemic or institutional difference between before and after 2002. The difference is the stability sustained due to a powerful one-party government after 2002. To this fact, we can add the sociological analysis demonstrating that AK Party will win a number of elections again in the future. The reason for stability, therefore, is not systemic. Because it is not systemic, whether a party holds the ruling power or loses it becomes vitally important. No opportunity to institutionalize the government is born. Although it is very important that Western analysts see this reality, it still causes them to make mistakes. If the stability that came with a political party can disappear when the party loses the government, it is more accurate to say that there is in fact a conjectural stability rather than a systemic one.
If there is no way to talk about systemic stability, it is not right to call the current situation a "regime." For instance, there is no way to name the regime in Turkey "Atatürk's regime," "Cemal Gürsel's regime" or "Kenan Evren's regime," because the concept of a regime refers to the system. Moreover, the systems do not exist with personalities or parties; rather, they work with institutions and legal rules. Western analysts are not successful in establishing the change as much as they are generally in determining the anomaly in Turkey. There is a high societal demand in Turkey for systemic change and institutionalization. Political parties entered the election process making commitments about the new constitutions. Particularly, the AK Party materialized this commitment with the model of presidential government. The outline for this system was exhibited in the election manifesto.
In the reviews of some Western analysts, however, we see that the regime in Turkey is named "Erdoğan's regime." That is why they try to question the factuality of the studies and theses the AK Party presented with regard to the new constitution and the governmental model by picturing it as supposedly "Erdoğan regime." Propounding a bundle of practices from the last couple of years, they constitute the grounds for the impossibility of the new constitution. While their criticisms are based on the lack of a system, aside from being fair or unfair, we are talking about the necessity of establishing a new constitutional order, namely, a new system. The fact that the analysts who should know best systems are not identical with a single person or a party fail to see this reality when it comes to Turkey, is probably because of conformism.
About the author
Osman Can is a Law Professor and Reporting Judge at the Turkish Constitutional Court. He holds a PhD from the University of Cologne, Germany.