The principle of the social state, which is one of the most important characteristics of the Republic of Turkey, has been regulated and secured by one of the unalterable articles of the constitution. In order more clearly see what is meant to be established and protected by this principle, one needs to analyse the concept of the social state.The social state has the welfare of its citizens as its primary responsibility. The state is seen as being fundamental to the protection and enhancement of the economic and social welfare of its citizens. Through this approach, the country is expected to be organised economically and socially. In a general sense, a social state has two different political and social approaches:• According to the first approach, the state is the institution of first appeal and primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. From this perspective the field of responsibility of the state is very wide. This is because the happiness of each individual in the country, without exception, is seen as a task of the state.• The second approach is the provision of a social security network for a minimum welfare standard established for all citizens to be ensured.
It may be said that the first approach has more to do with objectives and theory, while the second concerns means and implementation. However, both approaches are in close keeping with the principle of equality of the constitution. A social state takes as its priorities the creation of equality of opportunity, the equitable distribution of income and the establishment of social justice. It is clear that the individual lies at the basis of the system, which is keeping with the principle of Republicanism of Ataturk, according to which the state exists for the individual.In a wider framework, social justice, right to fair trial and progressive taxation are some of the benefits of the social state.
The social state should not be confused with socialism due to the similarity of the terms. A social state allows for private property and free competition but tries to protect its citizens from the potential injustices of such a system. In practice it tries to prevent the oppression of “disadvantaged groups”, as lower income groups are categorised, by wild capitalism.While it is a necessity for a country to carry out investment expenditure, it is a an important question which actor will carry out the expenditure. For unless, it is reflected on its citizens, a county has no wealth and a state which does not offer its citizens basic education, healthcare and legal services free of charge can hope to develop economically. It should not be overlooked that some of the most vigorous social structures around the world can be found in those countries which have fulfilled the requirements of being a social state. Scandinavian countries are good examples.To give a single definition, the 1961 Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, which is seen by many as the most liberal, offers the following for the social state: “A state which takes up as its own duty to provide for its citizens the material needs necessary for them to live with human dignity, while also providing fundamental freedoms.” Such a definition clearly separates the social state from both the socialist and the liberal system. However, the idea of asocial state is not completely separate from liberalism. In the end, they are both focused on the individual. In conclusion, neither the state, nor individuals should ever forget the duties of the state in this regard and the duties necessary for a healthy society should never be overlooked.
By Petek Şah

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