We left behind a referendum campaign full of lies, threats and dirty tricks, forced on the people by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government, and resulted in a patchwork style amended constitution which was originally imposed by the 1980 military coup. In an effort to strengthen its own power and assert its status quo this government, which represents the repressive and exploitative capitalist order, managed to get people’s approval for its amendments on the constitution. In order to maintain its rule for another term the government manipulated people’s aspiration for democracy and change. For the same purpose, they initiated discussions for preparing a new constitution. Yet, after the referendum country’s same immediate problems and need for democratisation remain to be resolved, not by the AKP government or the forces of the bourgeois order but by the initiative and intervention of the workers and the working people.
Constitutional amendments did not receive the support of the majority.
The AKP government, its supporters and the bourgeois media in its service have portrayed the referendum results as a big success with popular support, with some going as far as to say that the people have seized power.
Despite government’s propaganda based on dirty tricks, threats, lies and manipulation only 58% of the voters voted Yes, with a remaining 42% saying No, and 23% of the electorates not participating. This explains why in the eyes of the public this constitutional amendment, which was initiated by an illegitimate government and parliament, would not be considered legitimate because it did not get the approval of a reasonable majority. The fact that those who did not seek public consultations for their amendments and who subjugated people by use of power and money call these referendum results as a manifestation of “free will” shows how barefaced and zealous they are for a diktat.
It is not a case, as suggested, of higher level of democracy or popular gains.
There have always been discussions about our country’s democratisation problems and, in conjunction with this, the need for a new and democratic constitution. However the changes proposed through the referendum of 12 September were not concerned with any of this. Demands from the workers for the urgent need for democracy were not regarding how the members of the Constitutional Court or of the Board of Judges and Public Prosecutors would be elected. These were the demands of the power hungry AKP and capitalists seeking full hegemony and stability.
These arrangements would, without a doubt, serve further unbridled and aggressive exploitation, through a plundering and ranting system. Yet, the masses demand for democratisation were evident in many fields: removing obstacles to political and trade union organisations of workers; a constitutional guarantee for the demands of the Kurdish people regarding their identity, language and equal rights; a genuine secular state ending discrimination on and manipulation of the freedom of religion and conscience. Unless these demands are met it will not be possible to talk about a democratisation process. For this reason, this referendum did not contribute to the democratisation process or the improvement of people’s conditions. The winner is the repressive and reactionary capitalist rule and as long as the AKP government is ruling, a popular gain will not be possible.
A settling of accounts with the September 1980 political system and the putschists will be possible through people’s intervention.
Following the referendum, there remains to be resolved the burning demands for peace and democracy of the working people who have been engulfed in poverty and unemployment, disorganised through privatisation and subcontracting, left to the mercy of the capitalist market in the area of education, health and social security, burdened under income inequality and an unjust tax system, and who have been devoid of free exercise of rights regarding their language, culture, political representation and conscience.
The AKP government, being very much aware of the surrounding situation and maintaining its grip on power, has found a new pass time for the public until the next election. Thus, they have already begun to talk about a new constitution as promised during the campaign with the slogan “Yes’ is not enough, we will make a new and better constitution”. However, our people should bear in mind that this sort of loud talk of change and of democratisation will not result in the sovereignty of the will of the people or people’s democracy.
The kind of change and novelty desired by the representatives and collaborationists of the imperialist capitalist system in our country and their political representatives (in this case the AKP government) will only result in an even more anti-democratic state structure which will allow them to reign the country without any hindrance. The most visible element of this is the presidential system or similar structures which have been debated by those drafting the new constitution instructed by the Prime Minister.
For a new and democratic constitution and a people’s democracy, first the minimum electoral threshold must be lifted and a constitutional assembly set up.
It is now clear that until the next elections, with the promise of a new constitution, the AKP government will continue its repression and attacks on the working people for unbridled exploitation, as well as its lies and deception.
As is shown by the results of the referendum, this government and this parliament do not have the legitimacy to draft a new constitution. One cannot talk about democracy or the freewill of the people when electoral thresholds and anti-democratic practices are still in full implementation.
It is clear that only through struggle one can achieve a democratic electoral system that will reflect the freewill of the people, and a constitutional assembly that will bring together the representatives and organisations for the drafting of a democratic constitution that will embody a people’s democracy.
Now, the private and public sector workers, peasants, the Kurds, the Alevites, environmentalists, intellectuals, women’s movements, trade unions, professional chambers, democratic mass organizations, and the organised sections of the forces of labour, peace and democracy are faced with such a task.
Therefore, our party calls upon all democratic forces to unite, without delay, in the struggle against the AKP government and against all those forces that want to keep the status-quo, and for a democratic popular power.