Erdogan’s Image as Constitutional Reformer

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s words of harmony came nearly four months after the uprising that spurted at the beginning of the summer.

erdogan-turkeyTo introduce the new “democratization rights package,” Erdogan said, governments are temporary, civil society is permanent.

As a society, we are going to continue to be together as a whole, respecting different ideologies and lifestyles, the prime minister reassured his people.

Erdogan’s words of harmony came nearly four months after the uprising that spurted at the beginning of the summer. Nearly 650,000 people protested all over the country against the Justice and Development Party’s conservative policy regulations. The prime minister had addressed the protestors as “looters” and “terrorists.”

The rest of the democratization rights package contains anti-Kemalist reforms that purport to be democratic. They would actually be democratic if they were not so political. Here are some highlights:

Elementary school students will no longer take the student oath, “How happy is the one who says ‘I am a Turk.’”

From now on, women public officials will be able to wear headscarves to work

If the 10% threshold for the elections is lowered as proposed, representatives from less popular parties will also get to have seats in the parliament.

Private schools will have the right to teach in other languages such as Kurdish.

Not mentioned in the speech are the free speech violations. Turkey is the most repressive country in the world when it comes to arresting journalists, The New Yorker reported. Also, women’s and minority rights’ violations and possible remedies could have been addressed more in depth.

Now, something important to watch out for: the reaction from the international community.

Also, from the PKK because Erdogan has negotiated with a terrorist group to get more votes by providing them privileges. What else comes in the package? We will see.

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Eda Haksal, from Istanbul, Turkey, studies economics with minors in French, politics and business in New York University. She writes a poetry blog about economics and international relations at independentpoems.wordpress.com