A system change has been a topic of debate in Turkey, made more apparent after the country's first elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, took office in August 2014. What we are seeing is a turning point in Turkish politics. Top leaders in Turkish businesses have been calling for change to the political system since long before Erdoğan's election, pointing to changes they believe are crucial for a more integrated economy, emphasizing the importance of a new economic transition similar to that achieved by those who jumped from the lower-income to high-middle income bracket in only a decade. Their tremendous economic growth led to confidence, which led them to become more optimistic and ambitious regarding the 2023 goals set for the centennial of the Republic of Turkey, including goals to become the 10th largest economy in the world.
At this point, the business community knows that it has done all that is necessary by putting the current regulations in place, but it has acknowledged that further changes are required to proceed. Business figures have insisted on various structural reforms, leading chambers of commerce and non-governmental organizations to publish reports clarifying what they expected from the government. As a result, the government announced a Preferential Transformation Program, part of the 10th Development Plan, promising to implement the plan over a specified period of time. What was rather satisfying at the beginning proved to be only a temporary solution due to deep-lying issues in the political system, not the economic system. This is because Turkey's bureaucratic system is cumbersome and exhausting for business. The confusion that comes with having many economy-related ministries and institutions with similar responsibilities proved to be more harmful than helpful in terms of business production. Moreover, elections have been comparable to erratic train schedules, and people hesitate to jump on a train without knowing its destination. Citizens and business want to be sure that political stability is ensured and protected and therefore have called for a system change that would potentially open a new door to the economy.
Speaking to Daily Sabah, chairman of the Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD), Nail Olpak, said that the division of power is not only unevenly distributed, but is also misunderstood. "We had clearly said that this distortion was present before Erdoğan's election in August 2014 and that it was to be rectified with a new system. The solution to this problem was open for negotiation" Olpak said.
According to Olpak, the current system makes it impossible for all key market players to be involved in the decision-making process. "It has become obligatory that we talk about a system change for markets to operate effectively and for functional public policies," he said, adding that a new system should facilitate a high level of coordination between real sector representatives and regulators, potentially speeding up the decision-making process.
The head of the Turkish Exporters' Assembly, Mehmet Büyükekşi, who is among those responsible for reaching an annual export volume of $500 billion by 2023, said that a presidential system would be beneficial for businesses to gain momentum.
Not everyone knows what kind of a system would be the best option, but business communities' leaders agree that they need one to be able to write a new success story of the economy.
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