In Turkey, the government's leading agenda topic is to reorganize the parliamentary system, which has been blocked since the president began to be elected by popular vote rather than a parliamentary one.
According to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who became the first popularly elected president, receiving 52 percent of the vote in the Aug. 10, 2014 presidential election, the solution is introducing a presidential system.
The latest public surveys indicate that 55 percent of the public supports a presidential system. The final decision will, of course, be made by the public. President Erdoğan also insists on calling for a referendum, even though there are a sufficient number of votes in the Parliament to introduce a presidential system.
However, the opposition parties, which oppose switching to a presidential system, regard the issue through Erdoğan instead of remaining within the limits of political science and relating to the tangible conditions. Therefore, they steadfastly side with maintaining the parliamentary system. The manipulation campaigns conducted in the media on the subject can be shown as exemplary cases in journalism classes.
We saw the latest manipulation last week. While answering questions from the press regarding a presidential system, Erdoğan's words were distorted even though all the cameras were rolling.
A journalist asked Erdoğan: "Yesterday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu appeared on a TV show and said that a presidential system can be introduced in unitary states. What is your opinion on the subject?"
Erdoğan answered as follows:
"There is nothing to say that you cannot have a presidential system in a unitary state. There are already some examples. You see it when you look at Hitler's Germany. You also see the example again in various other countries. The important thing is to avoid any practice that might disturb the public in the implementation of a presidential system.
"Currently, we cannot argue that the examples of presidential systems are immaculate from A to Z, but we see that they are more successful than other countries with parliamentary democracies. We see that the overwhelming majority of developed countries have presidential systems. The U.S. has a partied presidential system. In its case, the president does not cut his ties from his party, and his party stands behind him. You can see whether the structure currently operating in our country resembles that."
His words are quite clear for those who want to understand. Erdoğan cites Hitler's Germany as an example in order to explain that there is no direct relation between presidential systems and a unitary state. As is already known, Germany has a parliamentary system despite having a federative structure.
In a nutshell, Erdoğan addresses the people in Turkey who do not understand the difference between government systems and state systems. Concerning this, he said: "The form of the government will conform to the presidential system, while the form of the state will be in accordance with the present unitary state system."
It is evident that no sane politician could defend his views by setting Hitler as an example, especially if this politician has cursed and condemned Hitler's massacres and recognized the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as crimes against humanity along with Islamophobia throughout his political life.
Despite all this, the manipulation of some media outlets in Turkey has found resonance in the foreign press.
Without needing to verify the information it obtained from limited sources, Reuters said Erdoğan showed Hitler as a model example for a presidential system.
The Guardian also put the headline: "Erdoğan cites Hitler's Germany as example of effective government," in the reports it published on the subject.
We are used to distortions in some media outlets in Turkey, which habitually fabricate lies and even twist words said on live broadcasts. But how can we explain that Reuters and The Guardian, which are prestigious media organizations, gave credence to such lies?