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Turkey’s Search for a New Constitution

The article analyzes the historical roots and the current nature of the constitutional crisis in Turkey. The Constitution of 1982 strongly reflects the authoritarian, statist, and tutelary mentality of its military founders. The Constitution established a number of tutelary institutions designed to check the powers of the elected agencies and to narrow down the space for civilian politics. Consequently, it has been the subject of strong criticisms since its adoption. There is also a general consensus that despite the 17 amendments it has gone through so far, it has not been possible to fully eliminate its authoritarian spirit. The article also deals with the constitutional crises of 2007 and 2008 over the election of the President of the Republic, and the annulment of the constitutional amendment of 2008 by the Constitutional Court. It concludes with an assessment of the constitutional amendments of 2010.

Turkey s Search for a New Constitution
Starting from 1987, the Constitution has undergone 17 amendments. The general direction of these amendments was to improve liberal-democratic standards.
 

In this article, Turkey’s constitutional developments will be briefly explained and it will be asserted that none of the three Republican Constitutions (those of 1924, 1961, and 1982) was made by a freely chosen and broadly representative constituent assembly through inter-party negotiations and compromises. On the contrary, state elites played a predominant role in the making of all three constitutions with little input from civil society. This is particularly so with the current (1982) Constitutionw, which reflected the authoritarian, statist, and tutelary mentality of its military founders. The article analyzes the partial amendments that the Constitution has undergone so far and Turkey’s ongoing search for an entirely new liberal and democratic constitution.

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