One of the minimum requirements for a regime to be defined as a democracy is the adoption of the principle of the rule of law. The law must assure a society of equal citizens. Equality before the law and confidence in the law enable individuals in a given society to feel protected as citizens vis-à-vis the state.

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Undoubtedly, while regulating state-society and individual-society relations, the law can be adapted to contemporary values as long as it preserves fundamental rights and freedoms. From this perspective, modern and democratic law takes care to define the duties, responsibilities and boundaries of the ruling actors because they hold all the administrative and executive powers. For instance, it stresses that a political party cannot rely on an arbitrary administrative style just because it won the elections.

Independence of the legislative, executive and judicial powers is another assurance of a democratic regime built upon the principle of the supremacy of law. The law is equally binding for all three of these branches of government. They perform their roles as prescribed to preserve the interests of the nation. No one has supremacy over the other. They are responsible for acting in compliance with the constitution and the law. They cannot establish guardianship over each other but neither can anyone ignore the others. For this reason, the independence of the legislative, executive and judicial powers is important and this independence ensures that they play their roles properly and legitimately.

Because I believe that everybody, particularly the ruling party, should think about law and democracy these days, I decided to recall these basic facts. We are witnessing these basic principles being violated.

The ruling party, which seems to believe that blocking the bribery and corruption probes is the reason for its existence, needs to take a serious lesson in democracy and law, because it has resorted to a campaign of removing public officers that can only be compared to similar actions during coups and it argues that there is a conspiracy against it. It still insists on taking the same path and will make the state dysfunctional for the sake of holding onto power, which it sees as indispensable.

And in doing so, it appears that it is ready to give up on the democratic assurances and advances achieved through painful democratization efforts. It is trying to take the judicial institutions under its control and to ensure that they do not play their roles. If possible, it will introduce new regulations that make us believe that it wants to subordinate the entire judiciary to the executive branch. In the 2010 referendum, the guardianship of the judiciary over politics was ended and now the political administration has a strong influence on the judiciary.

While it once was a party that bragged about ending the military tutelage and prosecuting the coup attempts and plans, including Ergenekon and Balyoz, now the ruling party sees no problem in developing relations with these same circles that pose serious problems to a democratic rule.

It does not even care about the Constitution that we want to change because of its antidemocratic elements. That Constitution basically says that the Republic of Turkey is a country governed by the rule of law. Reference to this principle in the Constitution is not an assurance in itself as the current developments prove. In a country where the laws and legal system become controversial, everything needs to be restarted.

Maybe the new Turkey will be the Turkey that can get over this crisis. For this reason, the prime minister, who said, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” is not wrong.

“New Turkey” will be a Turkey that adopts democracy with all its principles and institutions or we will keep paying the price until we learn through crises.

 This article has been reproduced  from the Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zaman, with which The Nation has a  content-sharing agreement.

Email:c.solgun@todayszaman.com