Military regimes, their constitutions, and post-transition challenges: comparative amendment-making in Chile and Turkey
Yegen Merter, Zeynep Oya
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The primary focus of this study is the analysis of constitutional amendment-making processes following transitions from authoritarian regimes. Based on an extended longitudinal comparative case study of Chile and Turkey, the body of the work focuses on the experience of constitution-making during military rule and amendment-making following the transition to elected civilian governments. While both countries suffered a breakdown of democracy and ensuing new military-imposed constitutions, their amendment-making processes after the restoration of democracy were quite different. Chile developed a largely consensual approach while Turkey moved increasingly toward dissonance and confrontation. Extensive field research and personal interviews in both countries found that the procedural rigidity of amendment-making processes is insufficient to explain the extent and direction of constitutional change adopted under elected civilians after the transition from military rule (Chile in 2005, Turkey in 2010). Therefore a central feature of this study is the development of an analytical framework to explore both demand and supply side factors. This framework deconstructs the amendment making mechanism by examining such demand-side factors as shifts in the balance of power; societal forces and external actors; political, social and cultural context; characteristics of the constitution; and constitutional tradition. Supply-side factors addressed are the procedural and informal institutional elements, including the role of veto powers; informational constraints; and the content of the proposed amendments themselves. This dissertation contributes to the expanding literature on authoritarian constitutions and amendment-making processes and breaks new ground by systematically comparing the experience of Chile and Turkey, as key actors attempted to gradually amend their military-imposed constitutions. The different outcomes in these two cases, this study argues, were shaped by variations in historical context, the balance of power, the number of veto players, and different incentives for reform, i.e., the reassertion of democratic practices in Chile and a reactive response to political and constitutional crises in Turkey.