Reforms are necessary to move Turkey forward

Published 01.03.2017 23:43

The people of Turkey have dealt with a lot on their path to political stability. Recently In Turkey, there were times when Turkey and its people had elections on average almost every 16 months.

This electoral chaos, combined with the context of this past summer's attempted coup by the Gulenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ), or the numerous deadly bombings and gun attacks by Daesh and Kurdish militants over the past 18 months, points to one solution: The Turkish population, now more than ever, needs a strong presidency to deliver stability and security. The people deserve it.

That is why constitutional reforms, like those championed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are critical to strengthening the office of the Presidency, improving systematic problems, and assisting Turkey in becoming more efficiently governed and less bureaucratic. And the country finds itself at a crossroads and faces the chance for real change, as Turkish lawmakers passed a set of reforms to be voted on by the Turkish people in April of this year.

The new bill – the first of its kind – would include reforms that grant the office of the Presidency the power to appoint government ministers and senior officials, dissolve Parliament, declare states of emergency, issue decrees, and appoint half of the members of the country's highest judicial body. This is a major development that will provide stability not only to Turkey, but to the global community writ large.

What's more, these changes put the power into the hands of the people. Despite what critics, opposition parties, or neighboring counties may say, the Turkish electorate will vote and have the final say. The Turkish people are voting for the future – for the country they want moving forward.

The president is confident in the voice of his citizens, and offers his support for what it is they are seeking – change, driven by the public. "The proposed changes offer stability," he has recently said. "I can only tell you that our people, our nation welcomes a presidential system - that has a president affiliated with a political party in Turkey - that is to come after a referendum, and the numbers obtained from the recent polls show a significant amount of support on the matter."

This is the right path forward. Turkey needs to revise its outdated constitution, drafted in 1982 under military tutelage. A strong executive branch, often compared by pro-government pundits to the system in France or the United States, will help prevent the need to form fractious coalition governments that occurred in the 1990s and had no lasting benefit to the country or its people.

In 2014, the people made their voices heard by electing President Erdoğan in the country's first direct popular vote, after a campaign in which he pledged to use his power to reform the system. This democratically-held election gave the President a mandate to make reforms and provide a more clear and efficient form of governance.

With the upcoming referendum, the people have the chance to be heard yet again. The people of Turkey will have the final vote, and I believe that a vote in favor of the upcoming referendum is in the best interests of Turkey and its citizens and regional stability.

* Morris L. Reid is a partner with Mercury, a high-stakes public strategy firm, and served in President Bill Clinton's administration.

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