President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's announcement that he would chair the Cabinet meeting on Jan. 19 has sparked debates, and Turkey's opposition parties argue that this is a sign of authoritarianism.
Well, is there any logical and legal basis for these claims from the opposition? Erdoğan was elected president by receiving 51.8 percent of the popular vote on Aug. 10, 2014 and to become the first president elected by popular vote. Presidents were previously elected by Parliament.
During his election campaign, Erdoğan vowed that he would be an active president, saying: "If I am elected, I will exercise [presidential] authorities to the full extent of the Constitution." So first, there is nothing that is not approved by the electorate. Second, Article 2, clause b of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey entitles the president "To preside over the Council of Ministers or to call the Council of Ministers to meet under his/her chairpersonship whenever he/she deems it necessary."
Third, in accordance with the law, the president serves as "the executive head" in Turkey, which is administrated by a parliamentary system. Then, why does it pose a problem that Erdoğan, who is the executive head, chairs some Cabinet meetings that are included in the realm of executive authority?
Fourth, this is not the first time a president has presided over the Council of Ministers. In the past, former presidents Turgut Özal and Süleyman Demirel also exercised this executive power on several occasions in the 1990s.
Is the presidential system a dictatorship?
Erdoğan announcing he would chair the Cabinet meeting on Jan. 19 stirred another debate about the system. Opposition parties argue that this decision is a step toward transition to a presidential system from the current parliamentary system.
If you do not live in Turkey, you might ask: "What is wrong with that?" thinking that both are democratic systems. However, Turkey's opposition discusses a presidential system, presenting it as if it were a dictatorship.
It is very strange, yet not incomprehensible. As the opposition parties have so far strived to come to power with military and judicial coups, they are doing politics by creating fear rather than relying on a concrete and real agenda.
Opposition reduced to manipulation
This is why Erdoğan's conduct, which is decent in terms of political and constitutional decorum, is turned into a topic of discussion about legitimacy by the opposition.
However, these discussions are not welcomed by the public. That is why the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has been in power for 12 years, is consistently increasing its votes in each and every election. Normally, being the opposition is supposed to make these parties garner more votes, however they are gradually melting away in a strange way. The opposition, which lost its hope for coming to power with elections, resorts to bringing the legitimacy of government to questioning in the international arena.
As is seen in this recent case, they give manipulative information to the international community, which is prejudiced against Turkey or does not have information about the country. I am afraid there are European and American politicians and journalists who analyze Turkey relying on these distortions.