Yes, it is now official. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have agreed on a series of constitutional amendments that will introduce a presidential system in Turkey.
The leaders of the two parties, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli, have ironed out the remaining sticking points in the negotiations for a constitutional change and have agreed at last that the president will be able to remain as a member of a political party even after he is elected. In the past the president could not remain a party member once he took office and had to severe his ties with his party.
With the constitutional amendments, the president will become the head of the executive committee and thus form his own government. Thus there will be no prime minister and the president will have a vice president.
This also means the party with the most seats in Parliament will not form the government but instead from now on the president will form his own cabinet outside the Parliament. However, he is permitted to name ministers from within the Parliament.
So from now on there will be no coalitions in government. The president will be the boss and will be running the country. Parliament will be the legislative body that also supervises the president.
The constitutional amendment will reach Parliament next week and it is expected that once Parliament approves the amendments with votes from AK Party and MHP deputies, the president will refer it to a national referendum that is expected to take place late spring or early summer.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) opposes the amendments and the introduction of the presidential system. It claims the president will turn into a dictator.
Currently the president in Turkey has vast powers having been elected by the people directly and is not accountable to anyone for his actions, which creates a crooked situation. The government, which is composed of members of the majority party in Parliament has to work like a lame duck in view of the dominance of the president. The amendments are designed to change this weird situation and create a proper system of running the state.
Meanwhile, there is also opposition to the president remaining a member and of course the leader of a political party. However, past experience in Turkey has shown this creates more stability than instability. In 1989, the late Turgut Özal quit as chairman of his ruling Motherland Party (ANAP) when Parliament elected him as president. He tried to control his party remotely and failed, creating serious political turmoil. In 1991, the late Süleyman Demirel also quit his ruling the True Path Party (DYP) when he was elected president and again caused political instability.
The AK Party argues that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sitting back again at the helm of the party will bring order in the ruling party ranks and create a more stable environment.
The party also argues rightfully that a new presidential system will mean stability in government and a healthier environment in Parliament as the deputies represented in the house will be much freer in taking initiatives and acting more independently during votes.