Turkey's President Erdoğan advocates presidential system for political stability

Published 30.04.2015 16:36
Updated 30.04.2015 17:18
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Repeating his previous remarks stressing the necessity of shifting to a presidential system to ensure political stability, Erdoğan said a system lacking updates that adapt it to the altering global order can create crises in the country.

In response to concerns voiced by opposition parties over whether a presidential system will preserve a separation of powers, Erdoğan also assured that checks and balances would be installed stronger than ever in the presidential system, which he has been saying would be in the best interest of Turkey.

Speaking at a symposium at Bilkent University in Ankara on Thursday, Erdoğan highlighted that the current parliamentary system blocks state mechanisms from bringing the country to better levels. He said a presidential system has to be brought to invigorate democracy, claiming the nation will become more participatory through the system.

"We do not want a president who only represents the state, but a presidency that represents the people along with the state," Erdoğan was quoted as saying.

The entire world of Turkish politics has been caught up in the debate about whether the country needs a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary government, a move strongly backed by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and Erdoğan.

However, at the moment, the AK Party does not have enough seats in Parliament to vote for a constitutional change such as the introduction of a presidential system without opposition.

According to the current Constitution, such an amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of Parliament, the votes of 367 out of 550 lawmakers. Only then can the president approve it or hold a referendum on the matter.

Erdoğan also argued against the idea that a possible presidential system in Turkey might turn the government into a dictatorship.

"In a discussion of the presidential system, it is certainly not possible to get realistic and functional results while talking about people, not principles and data," he said.

At every chance Erdoğan has said that he would be an active president instead of a symbolic one. He previously said, "As the first democratically-elected president of Turkey, it is out of question for me to close the door of the Presidency to the people," and added that the presidential post exists to respond to the needs of the people and the country and highlighted once again that he is in favor of an active presidential role rather than the current system where the president is mainly symbolic.

Turkey will hold parliamentary elections on June 7. It is expected that all details of a presidential system will be brought to the table after the June 7 general elections. Government sources say that a presidential system will be the framework and details will be clarified after negotiations.

A constitutional amendment or a new constitution would be needed to set up a presidential system. The country's current Constitution was drafted two years after a military takeover in 1980 and numerous amendments have been made to it since then.

The governmental system has been a hotly debated issue throughout modern Turkey's history beginning with the eighth president, Turgut Özal, and continuing with the ninth president, Süleyman Demirel. It has been brought up again by Erdoğan, who has claimed that a presidential system is more suitable to the country's political structure.

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