Turkey Confronts Constitutional Crisis

Democratic nations invariably confront moments in their history when core principles of government emerge to separate political parties. The recent decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to declare illegal recent legislation passed by the Justice and Development Party(AKP) that would allow females to wear a headscarf in universities has ripped asunder normal political relations between opposing parties. The opposition People’s Republican Party(CHP) believes the religious oriented AKP seeks to transform their nation into one governed by sharia law and is now ready to destroy the power of courts to halt that goal from being achieved.

Prime MInister Erdogan of the AKP insists his party has a legitimate right to pass legislation and the courts have no power to interfere with parliamentary action. Deniz Baykal of the CHP argues there are fundamental principles embedded in any society which can not be altered and modern Turkey is founded on the principle of secularism. He believes the nation will experience a terrible conflict if Erdogan tries to push through legislation which ends the power of Turkey’s courts to interpret the Constitution.

Perhaps, it is time for all political parties to step back and find ways to meet basic needs of all members of society. The underlying fear of secular Turks is action by the AKP to push through religious policies which undermine secularism. How can those fears be pacified?