When the Turkish nation went to the polls last June 24, they voted for change, yet at the same time endorsed stability. It was about opting for a new system of government and governance, but it was not at all an expression of discontent with how Turkey had been managed for the past decade and a half. To the contrary, it was about embarking on a journey to an even better future, yet on an ever more solid foundation.
Staying in the picture of a nation's journey we already see another very important milestone approaching and approaching fast: Turkey's centenary in 2023.
Turkey's system of national administration and government was in the past at times marred by a huge, often static bureaucracy and thus was time-delaying with regards to accepting or implementing reforms. Now a totally different reform is ready to be implemented.
First, the new system will only feature 16 ministries not 26 like before, as some have lost stand-alone relevance whilst others will benefit from a merger. When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took over as prime minister early in the new millennium he had to coordinate 37 ministries.
Now the Family and Social Policies Ministry has merged with the Labor and Social Security Ministry, becoming the brand-new Labor, Social Services and Family Ministry. Then the Finance Ministry was rebranded as the Treasury and Finance Ministry. In the past Turkey worked with six different economy related parts of the administration, whilst now there are only three. Put into an international context Germany currently has 16 line ministries that would include Angela Merkel as the federal chancellor. The United Kingdom has 21 ministries plus the role of the prime minister hence 22, whereas Australia has at present 22 ministries and just like Germany that number would include the prime minister.
Hence for a forward looking nation such as Turkey, despite its enormous size, 16 ministries besides the president and newly appointed vice president (thus 18) seems absolutely adequate.
Second, the number of deputies in Parliament was raised from 550 to 600. Not only this, the passive voting age was reduced from 25 to 18 years, respectively. We already see a very positive outcome of this change adopted in the 2017 referendum: now Turkey has a deputy who is just 22 years of age, with hopefully many more young deputies to join ranks in the upcoming elections.
Third, that very Parliament will continue to play an absolutely vital role in promoting Turkish democracy. Often misinterpreted abroad when commenting on the new executive presidential system, the Parliament will for example continue to pass, change or even remove laws or parts thereof. It can propose a no-confidence motion toward the Presidency. And thus the executive style presidential system is not detached from the Parliament.
Foreign affairs, economy, family
To begin with, Turkey over the past decade and a half has turned herself from an isolationist state into a fully integrated global actor. This implies that one makes many new friends but at times adds an enemy to the list, too. Ankara might wish to continue on its implementing of her 360 degrees foreign policy which allows it to grow her influence in Africa and Asia whilst not sidelining her immediate neighbors.
This pro-active foreign policy is based on the "seeing other countries eye to eye" approach. What's more, modern Turkey has become a hallmark for humanitarian aid and how to respond to a crisis in a neighboring country.
On to the next topic, the economy: True, it is ambitious to see Turkey in less than a decade joining the global top 10 economies but then again it is not impossible either. This scenario was put into the public domain by the president himself whilst speaking shortly after the elections on June 24.
In principle, Turkey's economy has come a long way indeed. If we measure progress from that fateful almost collapse of markets and an entire economy before, to when the current government swept into power, what astonishes many observers is that within a relatively short period of time Turkey saw the emergence of her very own middle classes. The middle classes are in many countries the backbone of a democratic, stable yet not static civil society. Turkey managed nothing less.
To illustrate this further, small and medium-sized enterprises which always constituted for around 98 to 99 percent of all Turkish businesses in the past only contributed 10 percent to Turkey's export. Thanks to promoting "Quality made in Turkey" and enabling SMEs to obtain serious financing as well as access to knowledge and technology this disappointing rate skyrocketed to well over 50 percent in less than a decade and continues to grow, with 75 percent in reach.
We can only start to imagine how positive a streamlined bureaucracy and administration will impact the further development of private business activity.
Finally, it is not only "big" policy making issues that will define post June 24 Turkey. Before the new millennium it seemed that family and social issues were often sidelined but now they are at the forefront too. It depends on how we view this issue.
Is the topic "family" only reserved for support in raising a family, think principal information or access to financial support where needed? Or is the topic to be interpreted in a much wider sense, such as what can and what should a government do to allow new and existing families to prosper? And above all else does the general economic climate in the country encourage young couples to have children and not just one as in some other nations, but more? As we see in some policy making areas the new form of government will be asked to be less visible in some areas perhaps, whilst in others strong and active guidance will be required.
Tutelage over for good
Please allow me a final flashback to the night of the election on June 24. On his first address to the media that night the president spoke about various important policy making details, some of which I incorporated in this analysis. But what struck me most was his mentioning of the fact that now, finally, the Turkish nation has voted for the end of any form of tutelage and voted tutelage out for good. The Turkish people know only too well the catastrophic outcomes tutelage can have; the word can be applied to many different scenarios, but in the case of Turkey and going back well over 15 years it was often attached to an overly militaristic state of affairs with little space for individual liberties and freedoms to blossom.
Hence they voted for change on June 24, yet they voted for stability, too. The executive presidential system, paired with streamlining government is what the nation wanted. But this never meant erasing all the positive dynamics Turkey already had and has. Change plus stability – in today's modern Turkey has no contradiction whatsoever. The next milestone: celebrating the proud nation's centenary in 2023.
* Political analyst, journalist
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