Balanced Power for Social Peace – Vahap Coskun

03 July 2022

Balanced Power for Social Peace

Vahap Coskun wrote an article on Perspektif on DPI’s recent  ‘Conflict Resolution and Constitution Making in Turkey’ report and the meetings DPI organised to discuss the report.

Coskun summarised the report as follows: ‘Part One deals with the problem of balancing power in Turkey, part two talks about the constitutional priorities in the Kurdish issue, part three deals with confidence-building steps in constitution-making, and part four discusses the gradual method of constitution-making in conflictual societies.’

With a series of meetings, DPI opened up the topics covered in this report for discussion. Two meetings have been held so far. The first meeting of the series held in July focused on the incremental method of constitution-making used to resolve conflicts in polarised and divided societies. At the first meeting, Fazil Husnu Erdem stated the necessity of three principles:

The first is the principle of ‘anti-majoritarianism’. Majoritarianism makes it impossible to make a consensus-based constitution in societies with deep divisions because decisions that are taken by the majority of votes affect the lives of minorities directly, deepen conflicts and disrupt democratic stability.

Not by Revolution but By Evolution, Not Quickly but Wisely

The second is the adoption of a non-revolutionary approach. In traditional constitution-making methods, constitutions are considered a historical opportunity to reconstruct society as a whole. However, in this method, constitution-making does not represent a ‘revolutionary moment’; on the contrary, it is regarded as the ‘start of an evolutionary process’ that takes into account the social and political change in society.

The third is the transfer of decisions to the political sphere. Constitutional provisions on critical issues such as religion or national identity can deepen problems. For this reason, the issues that cause conflict in society should not be placed in the constitutional text; instead, the solution to the problems should be left to the ordinary and relatively more flexible political processes after the constitution.

Moving away from democracy

In the second meeting of the series held this week, Sevtap Yokuş focused on balancing political power. The Presidential Government System, which aims to increase the government’s absolute power and neutralise the civil-political opposition as much as possible, is based on an extremely eclectic structure. In almost every system, it is seen that whatever elements are useful for power are selected and installed in the system. The system has no balance and control mechanism to limit the president.

Many factors can balance the power; these include the separation of powers, the increase in the number of elected offices, a strong social opposition, an independent judiciary, power sharing between the central government and the local government, and a wide area of ​​rights and freedoms. However, these factors that will ensure the balance of power in Turkey have been seriously eroded. When the stabilising factors weakened, power ceased to be controllable and limitable.

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