FOR the past 92 years, says Osman Can (pictured), a former heavyweight in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, his country has lived under three constitutions, each a product of upheaval and none of them democratic. The first set the stage for a secular one-party regime. The next two followed military coups. The newest, adopted by parliament in January and set for a referendum on April 16th, is no exception. Billed by the AK government as a safeguard against political chaos, the new charter would transfer all executive power into the hands of the country’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If approved, it would be the most comprehensive overhaul of the state apparatus since the birth of the Turkish republic.
It is not what Mr Can and most Turks had in mind. As a respected jurist, and subsequently as a member of AK’s top executive body, Mr Can campaigned to replace the current junta-drafted constitution with a civilian one. A constitutional committee was set up in 2011; more than 60,000 people, as well as hundreds of universities, think-tanks and NGOs,…Continue reading