New system increases parliamentary control mechanisms over president, says Erdoğan
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 20, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 20, 2017 12:00 am
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to criticisms on Sunday that the proposed presidential system would pave the way to a "single-man" rule, asserting that the constitutional amendment package provides Parliament with more effective control mechanisms over the president. Speaking at an inaugural ceremony for several facilities in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, President Erdoğan pointed to "information pollution deliberately created by the opposition" regarding speculation on the new constitutional amendment package, noting that, unlike the opposition claims, "the regime is not changing." He stressed that parliamentary powers will be increased under the new proposed system.
"We are redefining the relationship between the executive, legislative and judiciary [branches of government], ensuring that each has the mechanisms necessary to conduct their own business," the president said. "Additionally, in the past it was not possible for a president to be tried for any crime other than treason. However, under the new presidential system, parliamentary inquiries and written statements will place the power of control back into the hands of Parliament, strengthening its power over the president."
With the new amendment, Parliament is authorized to conduct parliamentary research on a specific topic and it can conduct general debates. It also allows members of Parliament to ask questions in writing. Furthermore, it may decide to open an inquiry on the president for any crime by secret ballot if it is able to secure a three-fifths majority.
The president also defended the change in age requirement for parliamentary deputies, which essentially lowered the age requirement from 25 to 18.
"It [the new system] gives an 18-year-old the right to vote and should give them the right to run for office. Such law is already in effect in the West, why shouldn't it be applicable here?" he asked.
The constitutional amendment package lowers the age of candidacy from 25 to 18 and removes the need of compliance with military service criteria. According to the government, the change aims to enhance political participation by younger people in Parliament.
During his speech, Erdoğan also thanked Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and the leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli for their preparation efforts for the amendment package.
"Parliament, the AK Party and the MHP successfully did their part for the arrival of the new system. I thank both leaders and members of Parliament. Now it's your turn, the national will. We are striving to make our people's preferences in the healthiest way possible during this referendum period. Turkey is a country ruled by democracy. Everyone is free to make their choices," Erdoğan said.
On Dec. 30, a constitutional committee of deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the opposition MHP submitted a proposed bill to Parliament for ratification. After Parliament approved the constitutional amendments on Jan. 2, with deputies completing two rounds of voting on 18 articles, the changes were also ratified by President Erdoğan.
A total of 339 deputies voted in favor of the package, which is now required to be brought to a referendum. The referendum for constitutional change will be held on April 16.