New constitution key for economic development
Turkey's business world is calling for the finalisation of the new constitution as soon as possible, but what will be the economic impact if the process fails or takes longer than expected?
By Erisa Dautaj Şenerdem for SES Türkiye in Istanbul -- 14/12/11
As the Constitution Conciliation Commission continues to solicit the opinions of different sectors of society, Turkish businesses -- with a huge stake in the country's political stability and legal structure -- are pushing for a new constitution that doesn't constrain dynamic economic processes.
Businesses hope agreement on a new constitution within the next year will provide the economic and political stability Turkey needs to keep the economy rolling. [Reuters]
"We are not living in the Turkey of a decade ago. Turkey is now the 16th largest economy in the world and aims to be the 10th largest by 2023 [the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic]," Mehmet Develioglu, vice-president of Turkey's Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (MUSIAD), told SES Türkiye.
"We cannot reach this target with a tattered constitution that resembles a patched bag. These two do not go together," he said on the side-lines of an Istanbul conference where the association made public its suggestions for the new constitution.
Turkey is in "urgent need" of a constitution that will expand civil rights and freedoms and equally represent all groups in the society, the Chairman of Turkey's Exporters Association (TIM) Mehmet Buyukeksi, says.
"Economic development is a process that goes with democracy. The economy thrives, develops and grows only in an environment where democracy and individual freedoms prevail," he underlines.
The new charter should not contain any economic constraints that could hinder the economic progress of the country, according to Develioglu. "For instance, we believe the monitoring of various public and private sector institutions should not be incorporated in the constitution, but rather be regulated by law," he said.
Economic life is a dynamic process and should not be regulated by static, non-flexible acts like the constitution that is very difficult to change, according to Abdurrahman Eren, an associate professor of constitutional law at Marmara University. "No economic constraints should be incorporated in the constitution, apart from the law on the state budget," he told SES Türkiye.
But Huseyin Ozcan, an associate professor of constitutional law at Istanbul University, argues that the independence of certain bodies, such as the trade and industry chambers, should be protected by constitutional provisions. "However, provisions regarding these and other bodies' structure and functions should be regulated by laws," he said.
While business leaders would like to see a new constitution as soon as possible, doubt remains over whether the government will be able to finalise the document by the end of 2012 as planned. This raises questions about how an extended process or failure could impact Turkey's political and economic stability.
Eren argues a new constitution won't be completed soon, as there are many topics that need to be debated in public, such as mother language education.
Ozcan says it could take three or four years before the new constitution is finished because "there is [no] political will to make a new constitution," but the government could avoid disappointing the public by presenting a package of constitutional amendments.
However, 113 articles of Turkey's illiberal constitution have been changed since its approval in 1982, creating an already unclear and contradictory legal document for citizens and businesses alike.