‘Civil Society is Indispensable for Democratic Ground’

03 Ağustos 2021
Co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party Tuncer Bakırhan indicates that civil society is indispensable for democratic systems but that civic space has been narrowing down in the new system.

How would you evaluate the state of civil society in the current governance system?

There are almost no associations or institutions left in Turkey that seek for social peace in Turkey with the Presidential Government System. With the latest law, many associations were shut down. Civil society organizations have been arrested and been exposed to lawsuits when using their right to criticize, they cannot breathe or survive under these circumstances. Civil society, which criticizes the opposition and which represents the problematic areas in real terms is indispensable for a democratic ground in Turkey. Unfortunately, there are hardly any institutions left that convey the demands of the society and that directs the government and that want those demands to be realized in favor of the people. 

Many institutions that maintain their existence as a civil society or that claim to exist so are also proponents. They do not have a mission other than the political provincial and district organizations of the government. Unfortunately, there is also a serious poisoning in the field of civil society. While the civil society field should have been an indispensable cornerstone of democracy, it got even weaker with the Presidential system.

How should be the relationship between civil society and politics?

Civil society consists of institutions that feed and directs politics, that convey the basic problems of the society to politics and that tries to solve the problems through the political mechanism. You can’t dissociate politics from civil society. Politics should be made in accordance with the demands of the society. Civil society organizations are the own dynamics of the society. Unfortunately, a serious relationship with civil society cannot be established in this field either.

Politics should build walls between itself and civil society that will prevent civil society from being influenced by commercial or rentier actions and political views. But it should follow a way and method that should be influenced by civil society, that take the suggestions of civil society into account, and that ensure social peace and tranquility of society together with civil society.

What kind of an approach or mechanism is needed for the effective participation of civil society in local governments? What roles do civil society and local governments have in this regard?

Civil society consists of mechanisms that make great contributions to both local and general democracy. Since local governments produce services together with the public, civil society organizations have very important effects and contributions here. Civil society has a great contribution to the formation of local governments with participatory democracy and transparency. The relationship of local governments with civil society is one of the best indicators of how democratic, how participatory and how transparent the local government is, and how much service it provides for people. We’ve witnessed with the recent presidential system that all of the associations that were shut down were institutions that had been active in the localities and that were organized on the basis of the basic demands of the society.

On the one hand, trustees are appointed, on the other hand, civil society organizations are shut down or were nullified. Therefore, it is very clear to reveal the picture of local democracy as its governed by trustees, without civil society and local governments.

This is the most significant indication that Turkey’s democratic grounds have been disappeared. Trustees are appointed to the will of the people, civil society organizations that are the capillaries that affect and feed the people are shut down, they try their best by exerting pressure on civil societies not to produce services.