This columnist toured some central Anatolian provinces on Wednesday and Thursday just after the political parties presented their lists of candidates to the Supreme Elections Board. These are the provinces that are regarded the "vote baskets" of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Feeling the pulse of the man in the street in these provinces it became apparent that people are concerned about earning a decent living and do not want to rock the boat by casting their votes for another party and thus forcing the AK Party out of office.
They will continue to support the ruling party in these elections, and as we approach the June 7 elections, the AK Party, which seems to have lost some blood in recent months due to a number of reasons, may well win back some of lost ground. Their concern is not the presidential system or even the Gülen Movement that tried to topple the AK Party government. Their concern is that the positive atmosphere that has been created in Turkey in the past 12 years, which has at least made our country an island of hope, peace and tranquility in the midst of a Middle East where fires are raging everywhere. This feeling should be preserved.
That is why the AK Party may lose some votes compared to past years, but in essence, the party will win the polls and remain in power under Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
However, we have also seen that people who support the AK Party and who have carried it to successive election victories in the past are not really so interested in the establishment of a presidential system or changes in the way the country is run.
People are more interested in what will happen to their pockets. They want to see the continuation of massive health benefits provided by the government as well as other social improvements. After securing their own well-being, they also feel strongly that the AK Party should carry on with its peace and reconciliation process with the militant Kurds of our country in eastern and southeastern Turkey, but should not be so openhanded in giving away concessions and thus encouraging eventual divisions in the country.
So the presidential system debate will be more of an issue in a battle of words between political leaders in this campaign and may well be used by opposition leaders to consolidate their votes to tell their voters that "this is the way to stop Erdoğan and the AK Party."
Today President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party have emerged as the two forces demanding a change in the system and transforming it into a presidential system. All the other political forces are against it. Despite the indifference of most AK Party voters about the necessity of a presidential system, Erdoğan and the AK Party will make it sound as if you vote for the party you will also be approving the presidential system. All the opposition forces are in strong unity that Turkey does not need a presidential system and thus, will be rallying support against it.
So if the overall percentage of votes won by the AK Party is below 50 percent, the opposition can argue that the Turkish people have rejected the presidential system. President Erdoğan has said he needs the AK Party to get about 335 deputies to be able to change the Constitution and then carry it to a referendum. However, in case the AK Party does not obtain more than 50 percent of the vote in the polls, the opposition can argue that the referendum has already been held and the nation has given its verdict.
Yes, Turkey has a defective parliamentary system. Yes, Turkey, with its modern and contemporary requirements, needs a new administrative system. So a presidential system can be a plausible choice. Erdoğan is the undisputed leader the Turkish people have voted for. But if we cannot achieve change that will introduce a presidential system due to various reasons, shouldn't the AK Party have a B plan to create a true parliamentary system?