De facto semi-presidential system and Erdoğan

Published 15.04.2014 02:10

For the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey the public will elect its next president. The elections in August will create an atmosphere of political change in Turkey. In the traditional parliamentary system the position of the president is a symbolic one. The Parliament selects the president and he takes his seat as the symbolic leader of the country. I say symbolic, because in the parliamentary system the post of the prime minister holds the real executive power. We are now face to face with a new subject for political science.

Now Turkey's parliamentary system will have a non-symbolic president who gains his power through the people's electoral votes.

The president to be elected by the people will transform Turkey's system of government into a semi-presidential system like the one used in France. Even if called by a different name, the people electing the president will cause a transition to a de facto semi-presidential system.

Yes, there will still be a prime minister, but the president who is elected through the people's votes will be very active in parliamentary functions. From meetings with banking organizations to functions within the state, the president will have initiative on every issue. The role of the prime minister won't change, but the president will have great power and influence similar to the semi-presidential system.

Alas, Turkey is now discussing who this president will be. In actuality we can make a safe guess on who will be president. Turkish voters displayed that they wanted him as their president in the last elections.

The results from the March 30 elections show us that Prime Minister Erdoğan would face no difficulty being elected president. As Turkey's most supported political leader, Prime Minister Erdoğan has enough support to easily win this election. Despite what some orientalists in the West think, Erdoğan's votes are not solely from one segment of society. An analyst who choose to closely examine the results of these elections will see that Erdoğan is a leader who can earn the votes of people from different segments of society across the country.

Even in regions where the AK Party failed to win the election, they always came second. Erdoğan comes either first or second in Turkey's demographically Kurdish eastern provinces. He is the most popular name in Turkey's economic and industrial Marmara hub. Even in Turkey's secular inhabited Aegean coast he is the second most powerful leader. There is no apparent opposition to Erdoğan in Central Anatolia or the Black Sea coast. Erdoğan's ability to gain the trust and votes of citizens from different ethnicities, ideologies and backgrounds is what separates him from the opposition.

Thus through the support he receives from the Turkish people, Erdoğan will go down in the country's history as its first elected president and it will be he who will shape the country. When Erdoğan takes the seat of president, there will still be some unanswered questions. Some commentators are asking who will become the leader after Erdoğan. In my opinion, this is not the right question to ask as it would be more appropriate to ask two questions. I would ask which parliamentarian will become prime minister following Erdoğan's election and who will become the general chairman of the AK Party? The recent regulations Erdoğan's government passed on joint presidency give us some leads. It is possible to say that a struggle for leadership will ensue following Erdoğan's departure, however this will present the party the opportunity of greater institutionalization.

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