Which president will Turkey elect?

Published 08.07.2014 00:16

The presidential candidates have been declared publicly. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, joint candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and National Movement Party (MHP), and Selahattin Demirtaş, co-leader of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) will run in the first round of the election, which is scheduled for Aug. 10. The result of the presidential race is already obvious. All the public surveys that have been conducted so far show that Erdoğan will be the first president of Turkey who is directly elected by people. While everything seems blatantly obvious, what can be discussed here is whether he can be elected in the first or second round. If anything does not crop up unexpectedly, Erdoğan will declare victory on Aug. 10. It is estimated that Erdoğan will receive around 55 percent of the votes, while İhsanoğlu is expected to have 35-40 percent and Demirtaş will take 8-9 percent of the votes.

As the nature of the presidential election is changing, one should not mistake this election for the previous ones, or the elected person for previous presidents. From now on, a figure who will come out victorious through the ballot box and will receive the approval and support of the majority will take over the presidential seat. This, first of all, will bring together the state and the public, both of which have always been positioned against each other. It means that the concepts like "state despite the public" or "state that is enemy to the public" will be embedded in history.

An era is drawing to a close in Turkey as presidents elected by the Parliament are going down in history. Among them, Abdullah Gül, who has indisputably become the most active and productive president, who established the strongest relations with world leaders and who has represented the state in the best way. Before he was elected president in 2007, he was also hampered by military tutelage especially in one of his last moves. The quorum of 367 votes, a stipulation which was offered to hinder Gül and the General Staff publishing a notice against his candidacy by threatening politics, saw the AK Party make some amendments on the nature of the presidential elections.

The pro-tutelage circles that brought forward the stipulation of 367 votes also saw some new pro-tutelage figures come up with many arguments to prevent Erdoğan until his candidacy was announced. The most oft-told of these is the thesis that "the President should embrace the entire country, that is why Erdoğan cannot be president." This thesis is incoherent in all aspects as Erdoğan, according to the statistics, is the leader that has garnered the most support in the history of the Republic. No politicians so far have taken as many votes as Erdoğan. Since support can be measured by voting rates in democracies, Erdoğan is a name that has so far embraced the public most. When this thesis is taken into consideration, all of the past presidents including Ahmet Necdet Sezer go against this qualification. In this regard, what should be questioned is past presidencies.

Consequently, a new era has been introduced in Turkey. It is a must to support this change legally. Therefore, what should be given priority in this new period is to amend the constitution that was issued after the 1980 coup; a requirement for the country to divorce from Old Turkey. During the last parliamentary term, consensus could not be created to change this constitution. Providing a consensus on the issue to introduce a new constitution is the top priority of Turkey.

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