After months-long negotiations and efforts, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), İYİ Party, Felicity Party (SP), Democrat Party (DP), Future Party and DEVA Party have signed the “Memorandum of Understanding on Reinforced Parliamentary System“.
The 48-page memorandum of understanding signed by the party chairs on Monday (February 28) covers a wide range of issues from fundamental human rights to education, from recovering the judicial bodies to ensuring judicial independence and reinforcing the democratic rule of law.
According to Motherland Party (ANAP) former Chair and academic Nesrin Nas, the adoption of the memorandum of understanding is a crucial step in terms of acknowledging the problems in Turkey.
Speaking to bianet, Nas underlines that the most critical point in the document is the following statement in the introduction:
“A transition to pluralist democracy in the real sense of the term has never been the case in our country. The state of the Republic of Turkey, which has been established following the partial inclusiveness of the 1921 Constitution, has been fit into tighter molds in following constitutions.”
Attaching considerable importance to this reference, Nas says, “Though the 1921 Constitution was not put into practice in the fullest sense of the term, it was still prepared from a public-oriented perspective.”
Nas underlines that there are still problems and deficiencies not mentioned in the memorandum of understanding, but awaiting a solution, adding that she still finds it important that six different political parties have met on a common ground with regards to human rights.
‘Two-thirds of a constitution’
According to Nesrin Nas, the memorandum sets out to expand the narrowing political sphere and is a step aimed at taking the political sphere away from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Nas emphasizes the following points:
“This reinforced parliamentary regime is not the address for the resolution of all problems, but it is a ground for solving the problems with common sense. They have reached an understanding regarding the problems of Turkey that need to be solved most urgently.
“Prof. Serap Yazıcı has said, ‘This is a document that constitutes two-thirds of a Constitution.’ In fact, this is correct. This memorandum must be considered like a draft Constitution. But in order for this to turn into a Constitution, a wide majority of social groups and primarily the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) have to participate in this. It cannot turn into a Constitution without their participation.
“But, still, when you look into the text, some problems stand out. For instance, the Kurdish question is not mentioned. There is a reference to women’s rights, but there is not enough emphasis. They have been accepted and addressed as part of a general democracy problem.
“Apart from this, there are indirect references. For instance, the text promises a powerful local administration. There is the issue of trustees.
“So, all these are about the resolution of a problem that they have not named. It shows that they do not deny it, which says a lot about the fact that these problems are a part of the solution.
“As a matter of fact, when you look into the attitude document of the HDP, it has also addressed the problem within the framework of democracy.
However, this needs to be kept in mind: Yes, the reinforced parliamentary regime is a ground where such problems with equality are solved, but it cannot solve them by itself.
‘It needs to deemed as a ground’
Nesrin Nas says that issues such as fundamental human rights, justice and judicial independence mentioned in the memorandum of understanding are directly related to the Kurdish question. She notes that expressing it as a democracy issue without naming it will not solve the problem, adding that it will still create an important space for the resolution of the problem.
According to Nas, only a very few number of Turkey’s problems with democracy are caused by legal documents:
“For the rest, there is not much that the law, Constitution or norms can do. We already have a constitution. There is an emphasis on basic human rights in this constitution, there is an emphasis on freedom of expression, there is an article saying that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and international conventions are over the Turkish Law. The problem is that the existing legislation is not put into practice.
Because the functioning of constitutions is, in a sense, responsible for society and social relations. The outside world determines the functioning of that constitution. For this reason, instead of looking at the text and thinking that all problems would be solved if this and that was a part of it, this text had better be accepted as a ground.
“This is a ground and we, as a society, solve the Kurdish question, the minority question, women’s problem, equality problem together by using this ground, this extended sphere of freedom and trusting the judicial independence, believing that the principle of minimum justice will function.”
‘There is no other way out for Turkey’
Nesrin Nas says that the memorandum of understanding has been shaped by social pressure, adding that social demands must be expressed more strongly now. Nas underlines that “people should know whether they will have bread on their table and whether they will have money left in their pockets after paying the electricity bill when the system changes.”
Noting that people should be convinced of the new system, Nas says, “People should be relieved of worries and told and explained, ‘You will lead a humane life without fear’.” Underlining that Turkey does not have a guarantee for future without this ground, Nas briefly adds:
“There is no guarantee for your bread without laying this ground. Without this ground, there is no guarantee or forecast as to where the one man will take you or drift you away. Just life Putin does today…
“We are worried, sad and concerned about Ukrainians today, but the biggest price for Putin’s steps are paid by Russian people in some way. They pay it by getting poorer, more isolated and confined in Russia.
I think we have now understood how horrible and brutal decisions ‘one men’ may take, how great harm they may inflict on their own societies, surroundings and even the world and that they may make them pay heavy prices when there are no checks and balances in their decision-making mechanisms.
“All in all, when I look at this text, I cannot call this a legal document in the true sense of the term, nor can I call it a political text in the fullest sense. This needs to be evolved into a political language. This is important. Can they do it? They have to. We have no other way out. We will push them so that they do it. We will push them so that they build new things on this ground.
“This memorandum has to be translated in a unity and language that will make them win the election. And we will do it by pushing them.”