Argüden Governance Academy Foundation

Good Governance in Public-Historical Development, Current Situation and Expectations

7 July 2015

How was the “Good Governance” term raised?

The term of “Governance” became commonly used as to point out defending the rights of the shareholders of publicly traded companies after the corporate crisis in U.S. “Governance” is used as corresponding to principles of transparency, accountability and openness. In the meantime, the term of “Governance” has been accepted to as “Good Governance”.

After World War II, as liberal capitalism improved and democracy has become popular, efficiency in public sector has been started to be discussed. In order to be voice of citizens that are not represented, and to enhance the democratic accountability of governance, local administrations and later on, international corporations, fighting against anti-corruption by activating good governance principles.

Some of good governance principles were raised in U.S. after presidency of Richard Nixon. After the presidency of Nixon lost reputation after Watergate Scandal, the following President, Gerald Ford, taken some precautions to build trust to governments. The most important precaution was “Government in Sunshine” Act which gave citizens the right to be informed and transparency in public governance.

In Türkiye, “Good Governance” concept entered to our vocabulary prior to 1996 Istanbul Habitat II International Conference. After Habitat Conference, civil society became legitimate in public sector. Thus, civil society gained the right of questioning the public sector and demanding information about public services. 1999 Marmara Earthquake and 2001 financial crisis in Türkiye made civil society to gain reputation in public and on the other hand, accountability of these two incidents were questioned.

How do you criticize our current situation regarding governance?

Following the 2001 crisis, the government change in Türkiye happened to be more different than the previous ones, for it exhibited the public demand for more openness. This government change explains the public demand of transparency and participation. The 2002 government was planning a reform in public governance. Public governance formed a working group in Prime Ministry which was initiated to prepare the draft of Public Governance Fundamental Act. This draft law open to discussion among civil society, universities and business world, was revised and drafted after discussions and accepted by the government. Unfortunately, the President was rejected the law and draft law was no more taken into agenda. The first article of this draft law stated that public governance should be participatory, transparent, accountable, human oriented and freedom based. On the other hand, this draft law limited the rights of central government and foresaw the delegation of power and services to municipalities. Nevertheless, this law was not put into force. However, the terms inclusiveness, transparency and accountability stated in this law was integrated into municipalities’ reform. Today, good governance concept and principles are, at least, accepted and widely used by modern politicians, private sector and civil society organizations. Even though these principles are not totally put inforce, it contributed to public spending budget to be available to access for all. Although there are much progress to be made, I believe, new constitution studies will aim to guarantee the assurance of these issues under constitutional clauses.

What is your expectations for the future of “Good Governance”?

Let me first say that I have optimistic expectations for the future implementations of good governance. I want to emphasize reasons. First of all, fundamental human rights and freedom is essential for all not only for public, but also accepted by the corporate sector. Secondly, new communication tools eased people to be included into decision making mechanism, easily. Thus, we will have chance to witness interference of people mass to public decisions. The Arab Spring and the Gezi Park Protests are the best examples for this. There is no doubt that there will be more public protests regarding elimination of every kind of inequalities in future. Hence, we can hear public voice better with the communication tools formed by organizations like Avaaz or chance.org. For instance, 2.7 millions of collected signatures under Avaaz were submitted to G7 and achieved to terminate the incentives served to fossil fuels after 2020.

7 July 2015