ISTANBUL – The winner of the Turkish elections of last Sunday, the AKP, will have to come with a reasonable offer for a new constitution, says Dutch Joost Lagendijk, teacher at the Istanbul Sabanci University and former Euro Parlemetarian. He is optimistic: ‘The Turks want change.’
Lagendijks optimism is mainly based on the power of social institutions, like business associations and NGO’s. Lagendijk: ‘They too want a constitution that takes Turkey forward. Without it, the country will get stuck.’
And this pressure from outsiders is what all parties need, states Lagendijk. The AKP is, in his phrasing, ‘not used to consult with others.’ Now they will have to, because the party didn’t get enough seats to change the constitution, that was installed by the militairy power in 1982, on it’s own. But the question is whether the opposition will accept a possible negotiation offer.
Problem with the biggest opposition party, the CHP, is that the position of the reformist leader is not very strong: the CHP won seats, but less than expected. Some forces in the party want to get rid of him, to return to the nationalism that ruled the party for long. ‘I do have faith in the party leader’, says Lagendijk. ‘I hope he is strong enough to withstand powers that want to push him out.’
In case he is not and the CHP sticks to the nationalist line, they will certainly clash with the other nationalists at the constitution negotiation table: the Kurds. Their party, the BDP, won substantially and has a huge interest in a new constitution, but is not necessarily willing to compromise. Lagendijk: ‘Their tradition is to say: ‘this is what we want, dot.’
Lagendijk hopes the party feel pressured enough by the wish of the people for change. ‘Earlier parties refused to takes seats in a parliamentary commission for onstitutional change, proposed by the AKP. Those days are over now.’