The rapid transformation of Turkish politics

Published 21.05.2016 00:46

Being in power for 14 years, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) now faces a systemic problem that appears as an internal party issue. In order to prevent the AK Party's first attempt to elect the president, the republican Jacobins unlawfully laid down the electoral condition of the support of 367 deputies, whereas all former presidents were elected only by a majority of Parliament. In other words, they found the previous electoral conditions that led to the presidencies of Turgut Özal and Süleyman Demirel insufficient in the case of Abdullah Gül.

In order to overcome such systematic resistance of the traditional bureaucracy in presidential elections, the AK Party relied on the option of a referendum, which was supported by a great majority of voters. While the presidential deadlock could have been resolved, a new trouble emerged regarding the administrative structure of the state. Since the people now directly elect both Parliament deputies and the president, both of these branches of government tend to use their respective powers by relying on their similar electoral legitimacy.

Although both the president and the prime minister belong to the ruling party, a jurisdictional dispute emerges between the two administrative offices. The AK Party's proposal for establishing a presidential or semi-presidential system was perceived by opposition parties as a total regime change rather than a structural transformation.

Apart from the systemic problems, the president developed path-breaking policies in the areas of education, health, employment and democracy that are backed by unprecedented economic development. I believe that all those successes originated from the grand vision of "New Turkey."

In light of the AK Party's issues from inside and from the perspective of the electorate, the new vision and politics that the ruling party developed should rely on the president. Both in domestic and international politics, the president should determine the general vision while the government should implement it. I believe that the president's young academic advisers, who had little political experience, tried to establish a new political axis around the prime minister instead of implementing the aforementioned presidential vision. The AK Party's administrative structure was unable to stand against such a dual system.

After the AK Party's emergency convention on Sunday, Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım will emerge as the new party chairman and prime minister. As Turkey now holds a certain political goal with explicit objectives, the new prime minister should ensure the implementation of that goal, especially on issues of the economy, trade and investments. Two ministries have become prominent in terms of popular support and administrative success: The Transportation, Maritime and Communications Ministry and the Health Ministry. Regarding the new prime minister as a political figure, his previous political career as the transportation, maritime and communications minister led to a brilliant success where European standards were achieved in highways and aviation. Turkish Airlines has become one the greatest airlines and now flies to almost the whole world. Apart from Turkey as a whole, an investment of $100 million continues in Istanbul and nearby cities.

The new prime minister has a personality agreeable to Turkish society, practical mental abilities and previous successes as a minister, and his former political experience should accelerate the implementation of reforms and enhance economic production and investments. I believe that the president will continue to represent the political center of the country while the prime minister will implement the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's presidential vision productively. The harmony between the presidency, Prime Ministry and the AK Party's executive committees should be realized in the form of expediting the ruling party's reform program. Indeed, the present tranquil structural transition to a presidential system has been achieved thanks to the popular confidence in that grand vision.

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