In wake of referandum, top business group calls brand-new constitution
Turkey needs a "brand new constitution," one of the country's most influential business organizations said after voters accepted the government's proposed constitutional amendments in a Sunday referendum. "Independent of the outcome, TUSIAD (the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association) has repeatedly said the need for a new constitution will remain in place," the group said in a statement after the referendum results were announced last night. "Indeed, both the referendum process and its outcome have confirmed that the majority of the population, political parties, and civil society organizations have a common expectation of a brand-new constitution. This gives hope for efforts toward such a constitution." TUSIAD, which came under government pressure to take a stand in the runup to the vote, said the outcome reflected the will of the voters and society. A new constitution should be a "reformist societal contract" that reflects the will of citizens to live together with their differences and should set an example for advanced democracies, according to TUSIAD. On this path, what Turkey needs is "mutual understanding, empathy, dialogue and constructiveness," the group said. TUSIAD also said Turkey's process of democratization has long stumbled on three main issues: the freedoms of conscience and religion, the issue of identities, and the separation of the legislative, executive and the judicial branches. "A new constitution is expected to turn these three dividers into three unifiers," TUSIAD said. "In this respect, a new reformist constitution should take the individual as a center, should answer identity demands in line with the concept of 'equal citizenship united around common values,' solve the issues of the freedom of conscience and religion, render the parliamentary system operative with all its institutions and rules, as well as establish check-and-balance mechanisms independent of any type of tutelage." TUSIAD also said regulations governing political parties and elections should be democratized, the 10 percent national threshold in general elections should be lowered, and the freedoms of expression and association should be expanded. "The current climate of polarization should give way to one in which political parties and all sectors of society will be able to discuss the new constitution," it said.