Turkey's westward-looking democratic journey of the last two centuries has come to a vital stage. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have decided to bring the constitutional draft before the assembly. While a new administrative structure will be introduced in Turkey, both the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) stand against Turkey's transition to the presidential system.Since the Imperial Edict of Gülhane, Turkey's central bureaucratic cadre has held a western-oriented political perspective and labels any political endeavor that puts Turkey's indigenous values forward as "reactionary" and "anti-systemic." Turkey's indigenous values have become predominant again through well-known turbulent and halting democratic processes.
Since 2011, a tension has existed between Turkey and the world order. That tension emerges not from Turkey's aforementioned democratic troubles, but from the present incapability of the Western colonial countries to rule the world. The European Union no longer tries to hide the tension between its member states and Turkey as a protracted candidate for the EU. Criticizing Turkey for the continuation of the state of emergency and the arrest of journalists, the EU is openly threatening Turkey for suspending by candidacy process. Yet, while the EU continues to harshly criticize Turkey in terms of human rights, their close relations with the PKK and other smaller terrorist organizations can no longer be hidden from the Turkish public. Thus, the Turkish people are highly suspicious about the true intentions of the EU member states.
Since the beginning of his political career as the mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has always been at the forefront of Turkish politics, is now becoming a well-known political leader throughout the world. First of all, Erdoğan successfully broke up the military tutelage and the central political parties' monopoly over political power through his electoral successes. Despite all the legal and illegal attempts to overthrow his legitimate political power, Erdoğan's support base constitutes 60 percent of the Turkish electorate. Representing not only the periphery in the center, but also Turkey's aspirations for becoming a stronger country, President Erdoğan has become the spokesman of the oppressed in the Islamic world against the oppressive world order. However, his popularity in Islamic countries exacerbates Western confusion. Erdoğan is a democratically elected president who could stand against the material interests of the Western countries. When the EU continues to work with openly authoritarian countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, their obsession over the problems of Turkey's democracy becomes hypocritical. Yet, Turkey's transition to the presidential system will be the direct product of Erdoğan's political vision.
Regarding the issue of the presidential system, a number of constitutional articles shall lay bare the main characters of the new system. Our research demonstrates that the constitutional draft that is supported both by the AK Party and the MHP will be supported by the majority of the Turkish electorate. The present situation is a crucial stage for Turkey's democratic journey and our aspirations for a stronger country can only be achieved only through establishing a stronger democratic structure.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.