NGOs support urge for public involvement in drafting new constitution
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJan 05, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jan 05, 2016 12:00 am
Supporting the "search conference" suggestion from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, civil society organizations have said that society must be included in the work carried out for a new constitution through face-to-face talks, phone conversations and TV programs.
Speaking to Sabah daily on Monday, Ayhan Oğan, the chairman of the Civilian Solidarity Platform (SDP), in which 498 civil society organizations gathered, said they are preparing to discover the opinions and expectations people have for a new constitution and that they do not have time to lose to start work on the issue.
Indicating that constitution-making processes abroad must be also examined, Oğan said: "It is beneficial to act with methods that are available for the conditions here by taking Turkey's history, culture, region and social and societal structure into consideration."
"This search conference that our dear president has mentioned is not a task that can be carried out with lawmakers and academics only. He talks about an event with a vast range of people that hundreds, thousands, millions would participate in and declare their opinions. This is called society-centered, process-driven constitutionalism in the literature," he said, adding that this method was previously successful for South Africa.
Oğan, who chairs the institution that organized public meetings on a new constitution in 34 provinces between 2011 and 2013, thinks that a search conference is necessary for the success of the constitution-making process.
He said: "With this work, the public's opinion on these especially controversial issues such as unchangeable articles, governance systems and presidential and semi-presidential systems would also be determined."Stressing that political party disputes undermine the constitution-making process, Oğan said: "In order to make a new constitution in Turkey, it needs to pave the way for public will and it should be manifested in politics. Wide compromise prevails in society on this issue. There is a demand from society for a new constitution. Channels through which societal dynamics can influence politics are necessary."
He said that not just civil society organizations, but politicians, the government, Parliament, the media, academics and intellectuals must take part in the issue and reach a broad consensus: "This work cannot continue only with a couple of civil society organizations. We will try to do our own part of the job as civil society. We have started preparations for this. We have put our previous work on the table."
"We need to trust our people's common sense," he said.