Releasing the Energies of Everyday Politics: The Role of TESEV

Our country is living through turbulent times. Due to severe polarization, urgent questions have been cast aside: unemployment and migration; access of women, children, youth, elderly and the disabled to socio-economic resources; the obstruction of broad public participation in decision-making processes; and the proliferation of environmental policies that disregard the quality of life.

As issues piled up, the politics of identity appropriated our common future. These issues now confront us. They await resolution by all decision makers, no matter which side of the polarized political spectrum they occupy. Decision-makers have the responsibility to overcome long-abandoned problems. When they look for answers, they will need to recognize that, with the passage of time, insufficient attention has been given to the development of effective solutions.

Public attention has focused on current events; for its part, TESEV has undergone a renaissance, while staying true to its mission of seeking sustainable solutions based on scientific methods. TESEV’s findings look beyond the short term; they are developed for use by all segments of the population; and they are aimed at delivering solutions needed both by public authorities and society at large.

The working principle of TESEV is to ground its findings in scientific research; we are certain that this approach yields the most effective recommendations for intractable social problems.

As is well known, TESEV stands for the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation. By its very focus on individuals and society, research on economic and social issues differs from the natural sciences. Therefore, the starting point for developing solutions must give prominence to a longed-for ideal, both in terms of human and social welfare, while remaining guided by scientific research methods.

What kind of an individual and society does the new board of TESEV yearn for? Concisely, the new TESEV board seeks to revitalize the principles adopted by the founders in 1994 in order to ameliorate present conditions.

The new TESEV longs for a democratic Turkey that fully respects human rights and the rule of law; that sees others not as adversaries but as potential partners for cooperation; that has internalized the culture of reconciliation; that has embraced accountability and transparency as an essential principle at every stage of public life; that has ensured the efficient functioning of advanced mechanisms to guarantee, rather than merely imagining, the broad and effective participation of citizens in the government of the country; that has prioritized the principle of equal opportunity; that has rendered the sensibilities of contemporary civilization as the foundation of public morals; and that is open to all beliefs and ideologies. The full force of its efforts is to make sure that scientifically-based recommendations are shared with anyone or any organization that wants to achieve these objectives. Our doors are open to all those who long for the same principles.

Until now, political parties have mainly been the bearers of such longed-for objectives; they will continue in this role for the foreseeable future. In democratic societies, the compact between citizens and political parties is as follows: citizens trust and support the leadership of a political party in order to overcome problems, while political parties, owing to their popular support, accept and enrich the values and dreams of their constituents in order to frame implementation paths and advance a higher vision for society. However, for this dynamic to be productive and effective, the mere appeal of mainstream political opinion is insufficient. Recommendations built upon intellectual, conceptual and scientific research provide the groundwork for ideas to take a concrete shape, structure, and process. It is at this juncture where the function of think tanks becomes meaningful.

The new board of TESEV is committed to continue to play its role in the establishment of a democratic society in line with its vision and mission as declared in 1994.