Friday, September 10, 2010

Boycott position on the rise among civil society

A survey conducted by the respected Pew Research Center between April 12 and 30, reveals that confidence in Turkish institutions has diminished in the past few years. In particular, the military, the prime minister, national government and also religious leaders. On Sunday there will be the referendum on Constitutional amendments.

According to the poll on Tuesday, the military continues to be a popular institution, with 72 percent saying that it is having a very, or somewhat, good influence on Turkey. However, this is down from 85 percent in 2007, while the number of Turks who believe the military is having a very good impact has declined from 57 percent to 30 percent.

Confidence in the military has dropped most steeply among the nation’s Kurdish population with just 37 percent of Kurds giving the military a positive rating, compared with 64 percent in the 2007 poll.

The poll also revealed that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ratings have slipped over the past three years. Currently, 52 percent of people believe he is having a good impact and 43 percent say he is having a negative impact -- while in 2007, 63 percent of respondents described his impact as positive and 33 percent as negative.

On Sunday polling stations will open throughout the country. The changes to the Constitution have been labeled as a mere "cosmetic" exercise by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) which is at the forefront of the boycotting front. The boycotting position is supported among others, by many of the victims of the 12 September 1980 military coup (the Constitution was written by the coup generals two years after the coup), by socialists, feminists, gay, lesbians associations, many intellectuals.

The BDP has stated that it has decided to boycott the referendum because "we want to show that we have another alternative and to reveal the will of people who demands a new democratic constitution. We see BDP as Turkey's democratic main opposition party. Therefore we think we have a historic responsibility in this historic process.We want to bring, all people who are in favour of equality, freedom and change, together under the boycott flag. We believe that this potential would start a new constitution making process. Ruling AKP government is trying to use this referendum as a ratification to its policies during eight year governance. AKP is suppressing the Kurdish politicians and people's opposition and denies any attempts on peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish Question. We are not ratifying AKP's policies so we won't vote and we will boycott the referendum".

As far as the amendments are concerned, these are the main changes: the structure of the Higher Council for Judges and Prosecutors is changing. Numbers of the members will increase from 20 to 21 and the members will be chosen from a variety of sectors including academics, lawyers and law professors.Decisions from Higher Military Council and Higher Council for Judges and Prosecutors are opened to legal review. The soldiers will be able to tried before a civil court for an non-military related issues. This amendment was challenged by CHP and taken to the Constitutional Court.Closing political parties will be more difficult and in accordance with Venice criteria. The decision will be taken by the Parliament, like 1961 constitution. Violence and terror are the criteria for the political parties.Civil servant will be granted the right to strike which is currently illegal. Civil servants will be able to take disciplinary punishment before administrative court which they could not. (Warning and Condemnation punishments)Affirmative action is emphasized and discrimination against women, children and disabled will be defined in the constitution.Protection of personal data is secured under constitution.Right to individual application to the constitutional court is recognized which is not possible at the moment. ECHR criteria will be taken into consideration. The sentence “human dignity is inviolable” will be added.