The June 7 general election has given the ruling party an opportunity to take stock and learn. One of the common findings among observers indicates that the discussions over the presidential system played a role in the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) declining vote share. It cannot be said to have influenced the decrease in Kurdish votes. But this factor can be argued to have been an issue for a small segment that instead turned to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Also, it is seemingly one of the reasons tempting some AK Party voters to not cast ballots. But still, post-election field studies do not indicate that the presidential system was considered as a negative on its own. Probably the way the discussion was managed overshadowed its content, and as the electorate perceived the presidential system issue as a private matter for the president, they held themselves at a distance from this proposal.
As a result, we can make an inference about the proposal of the presidential system with our minds at peace: This discussion did not bring any extra votes to the AK Party. Besides, it did not receive the consent of the party's own base and it gradually turned into a negative. At this point, it could be asserted that the AK Party was wrong, or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not pay attention to the psychology of the electorate and pushed the limits. But there is a strange picture: Above all, the presidential system requires a constitutional change and a new constitution is possible through changing the current preamble. However, although our current constitution belongs to the generals of the Sept. 12 coup, the preamble expresses the ideological ground of the 90-year-old Kemalist autocratic regime. In other words, a new preamble will be a completely revolutionary phenomenon, and an agreement on a new text probably will not be possible in the short term. Erdoğan also said in conversation that it might take four years to adopt the presidential system, adding that the first president might be someone else.
In brief, even if the AK Party had achieved 367 seats in Parliament, a change in the system would not have been on the agenda in the short term. The AK Party's implementation of an acceleration tactic also would not have been found appropriate, since the new constitution is supposed to be permanent and functional, and not have a weakness in legitimacy in order to allow for governing. In other words, it must not be an "AK Party constitution." There is one more phenomenon rendering the picture even stranger. During the election campaign period, Erdoğan contented himself with only saying a few words about the logic and content of the presidential system. He built his discourse only upon the argument that a new political system is necessary for Turkey. However, during the same period, a committee comprising competent legal experts within the AK Party were working on presidential and parliamentary systems, and they came up with some alternatives that presented democratic and strong control mechanisms. Which means, while an election campaign that was also encompassing the presidential motive of the AK Party was ongoing, the party actually had a realistic presidential system model.
Let's ask again: Why did Erdoğan present the presidential system as empty rhetoric even though he knew that it would take a long time and knowing that he had formed a serious proposal for a presidential model? Maybe he just had his eyes somewhere else. For Erdoğan, the presidential system was probably only a tool and its acceptance in principle was sufficient. In this way, a new ground for the elected politicians could be created and Erdoğan could advance on the bureaucratic resistance forces, thanks to this legitimacy. Consequently, he did not prefer to approach the presidential system from a realistic point of view. He only wanted to use this as a general approval mechanism.
However, maybe half of the AK Party voters wanted the introduction of a more "normal" phase. People perceived the word "presidency" as a harbinger of a new conflict period, and felt a need to put some distance between themselves and this idea. That is to say, Turkey has not even started to discuss this topic in real terms yet.