We started our journey at the end of 2011, when everyone talked about “polarization”, and it was the period of drafting a new constitution. With the need to strengthen the “checks and balances” system, we, as 120 participants, came together under the facilitation of Prof. Dr. Fuat Keyman, Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Prof. Dr. Mithat Sancar and Prof. Dr. Ali Yaşar Sarıbay and listed the three essential features that the new constitution must have:
At the end of the workshop, we agreed on 108 proposals about securing judicial independence and establishing a competitive political party and election system. The proposals were conveyed to Abdullah Gül, the then President of Turkey, Cemil Çiçek, Speaker of the Parliament, Constitutional Conciliation Commission, and all the political parties represented in the parliament.
In 2012, we, as 33 NGOs from different political backgrounds, came together and drafted a declaration based on the 108 proposals, thus laying the foundations of the Checks and Balances Network (CBN). Based on participation, transparency, mutual respect and pluralism, we included an internalized political and civic culture from the local to the national level among our goals and we started to work accordingly. The checks and balances mechanisms and dialogue process that would let us reach these goals became our compass. This is how the Checks and Balances Network was born.
Starting the year 2014 with 117 members, our network became the voice of 267 organizations in three years. We knew that we needed to secure diversity, pluralism and participation first at the local level. Therefore, we established checks and balances centers in seven provinces (Adana, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, İzmir, Kayseri, Samsun) located in seven regions of Turkey. Our members taking an active role for each central province started to contribute to the network as provincial coordinators. Starting with seven NGOs, the number of our coordinators reached 27 in a short period of time. The checks and balances centers became operational structures with regular knowledge and experience exchange, working continuously both as individual centers and together, in coordination with each other.
Today, the CBN is the biggest and the most colorful NGO platform in Turkey; it is the only structure working in this field. Each of the members from 17 different fields of specialization working in all the 81 provinces of Turkey makes efforts so that the checks and balances system is first established in the constitution and laws, and then internalized by the society and transposed to civic and political life.
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