Restoring the Validity of Law in Democratic Societies

Many of these issues and controversies discussed in the debate on “Restoring Constitutionalism” arise after “democratic backsliding has taken place” and when the Constitution already includes “entrenched authoritarian enclaves”. Taking this context into consideration, I will examine a more basic issue, namely the validity of law in a democratic society.

Restoration without the Constitution

After what is now almost a two-decade long rule by the governing party, there are strong indications that a strong reshuffling in Turkish politics is in the works. Support for President Erdogan and his party is declining. I argue, firstly, that it is a combination of factors that has led to this moment of changing fortunes in Turkish politics – a combination that sheds light on what tactics may successfully be employed by opposition forces who wish to put an end to autocracies. Secondly, I claim that constitutional restoration in Turkey does not require formal constitutional change.

Beware of the Bulldozer

The case of Russia teaches us how dangerous extra-constitutional constitution making can be – and that it should always be just a last resort. No substantive institutional changes should be made outside of the constitutional bounds. Otherwise, there will always be the danger that breaking the rule of law will continue even after constitutional change has taken place. This is precisely what Russian intellectuals and jurists, who supported Yeltsin in 1993, learned under the rule of Vladimir Putin. We should try to avoid repeating their mistakes.