Turkey needs a new constitution to establish a democracy based on liberties. The new constitution should broaden the scope of freedoms for all, and provide protection against the oppressive policies of the governments. The new constitution should be erected on the principles of freedom, equality, social justice and secularity. The constitution should explicitly state that respect for human rights is the foundation for the legitimacy of the state, as well as for the social order and domestic peace.
The constitution shall further proclaim that human rights regarding a civic society, modernity, and cultural, political and social rights are an inseparable whole and extend equal protection to them. A democratic constitution is one that has been legislated through a democratic process.
A democratic constitution embraces all colors in the society during its making, as well as in its content. Therefore the new constitution should be drafted by an assembly not tainted by the shame of the 10% qualifying hurdle. CHP sincerely believes that even in the short time span left to elections, the qualifying hurdle can be reduced.
One of the cornerstones of the new order is the strengthening of the parliamentary system. The 12 September (1980) coup has rendered the executive unfairly dominant over the legislative and the judiciary. Neither can discharge their essential function of supervising the executive properly.
Proposals “like the Presidential System” serve no other purpose than to perpetuate the 12th September regime, opening the door to one man autocracy. Such proposals only add to the exaggerated powers of the executive, render the legislative impotent and raise the odds of friction between the executive and the legislature. They won’t bring stability, but sow the seeds of new crisis.
In the CHP administration, the representative capacity of the parliament will be strengthened, while the powers of the executive will be curtailed. Another indispensable condition for the true democracy is the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. A High Commission of Justices and Prosecutors (HCJP), chaired by the Minister of Justice, constituted of members elected from rosters prepared by the same Ministry cast a shadow over judicial impartiality.
Members of the judiciary are subject to direct or veiled pressure by the administration. This portrait injures social peace, as well throwing doubts on all major rulings. CHP will ensure the complete independence of the HCJP, as well as restoring the financial and legal framework for the immunity of the justices.
CHP has always rejected any interference in the affairs of the elected parliament and the government except by those institutions constitutionally empowered to do so. In this context, CHP explicitly rejects any interference in politics by the Turkish Military Forces (TMF). TMF should be firmly under the control of the civilian authority. To achieve this goal, CHP is initiating a comprehensive non-militarization strategy.
In CHP administration, Article 35 of the TMF’s Domestic Responsibilities Bill will be rescinded. High military tribunals will be abolished. The core of the TMF will be made of professionals, with draft (mandatory military service) reduced to 6 months in the medium term. Non-militarization will be made the overriding principle of politics and the society.
In CHP’s vision of democracy, individual freedoms and rights should be given respect under all circumstances. The safety and freedom of citizens, as well as the protection of the privacy should be the foundation of the new order. Turkey’s record with respect to these priorities is depressing.
As pointed out by the ECHR, arbitrary detention warrants systematically violate human rights. Court orders for indefinite custody have no legal foundation. The experience of Turkey clearly demonstrates that the fact of these decisions been made by courts doesn’t ensure their legality.
Similarly, another individual right that is frequently violated is the respect for privacy. Illegal wire-tapping and eavesdropping have become the norm. The police refrain from investigating these incidents, in fact in certain cases the suspicions center on the very same police forces.
It has been observed that certain judges have issued blanket wiretapping warrants in clear contravention of the established legal precedent. In CHP’s government, these practices shall be ended swiftly, with citizens no longer living in fear of being persecuted through these means if they oppose the government.
Another inviolable principle of a liberal democracy is the freedom of thought and expression. Currently 57 journalists are under arrest, which puts Turkey ahead of China and Iran. There are over one thousand trials-in-progress against journalists.
Media outlets struggling to preserve their impartiality are being intimidated through punitive tax levies. Even unpublished books are subject to prosecution and censure. CHP promises to eliminate all barriers to freedom of thought, freedom of expression and press freedoms.
No longer will the journalists fear whether their articles would cause them retaliation. Democracies even with well-designed laws and institutions can’t survive in the absence of NGOs. CHP will eradicate all barriers to the freedom of association and voluntary organizations. These civic organizations shall be treated as full partners of the democratic society and the political decision making process.
In Turkey there are still formidable obstacles to civic association. CHP shall democratize both the politics and civil society. Led by the revision of the Political Parties Act, all laws will be reviewed to open the way for NGOs. The right of all interest groups to participate in the political decision making process shall be enshrined in the new constitution.
Pluralism is another cornerstone of our democratic vision. In the context of politics, this translates into the rights of all groups, no matter how small their size may be, to organize and be heard. Furthermore, we shall even the political playing field for fair competition among all actors. Finally, we shall take precautions to prevent the majority from monopolizing the political arena.
The principle of pluralism is severely impaired by Turkey’s 10% qualifying hurdle, excessive restrictions on political activity, state aid that favors large parties and rules to make the election of independent candidates difficult. We promise to reduce the qualifying hurdle to a maximum of 5%.
Plurality also applies to other aspects of the social life. The legal system should be redesigned to recognize and protect differences. No member of a democratic society should be discriminated on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion or sect (faith). In this regard, women deserve the most protection and support in our society.
Women face a wide array of problems such as violence, deprivation from education and from participation in the workplace, as well as under-representation in politics. CHP shall strive to establish gender equality in every dimension of the society. In this regard, CHP considers affirmative action and positive discrimination (quotas) as useful means for ending inequality.
CHP is sincerely committed to hear and resolve the complaints of all social groups suffering from discrimination. In summary, CHP promises more democracy to Turkey and to each and all Turkish citizens. Shoulder to shoulder with our fellow countrymen we shall accomplish the fourth transition of the Turkish Republic.