ETYEN – What is this insistence on the presidential system for?

What is this insistence on the presidential system for?Looking at Turkey from the West, one can see that there is a dangerous specter hovering over the country. Virtually everyone believes that the country is becoming increasingly authoritarian and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan is fueling this deliberately. I must add that the leading intellectuals and media outlets of the secular camp in Turkey are exerting great efforts to make Westerners believe this observation. Actually, if you focus on ErdoIan’s style and believe that it dominates the political scene in Turkey, you will certainly be sure that the country is becoming authoritarian. But if you look at what the government is doing and how these deeds affect society, it is gives the impression that the opposite is happening.The weakening of relations between Turkey and the European Union, coupled with Turkey’s misguided Middle East policy, have given rise to a sort of skepticism about Turkey. This background is further driving people to exaggerate ErdoIan’s errors and turn him into an object of fear due to his strong Islamic identity. Thus, every development that adds power to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is sparking extra concerns in the West. Unfortunately, Turkey can move closer to the EU only by implementing reforms and effecting a social transformation, and the only party that fully supports this is the AKP. Therefore, if we start to experience an exaggerated fear of ErdoIan, we need to propose to halt the reform process.This dilemma leads to Westerners backing the parliamentary system. It is said that any presidential system will make ErdoIan “the one man” and drag the country into unknown aentures. It is possible that aocates of this argument are not aware of the powers and authorities granted by the current parliamentary system to the prime minister. Indeed, as long as the AKP controls the majority of seats in Parliament, there is nothing ErdoIan cannot do.Another source of concern is that the likelihood of a coup d’état may increase if a presidential system is introduced. However, the veracity of this assumption is dubious under the circumstances specific to Turkey. Indeed, in this country, the bureaucracy is already independent from the elected politicians and closer to an authoritarian regime. Therefore, the real question is which system enables the elected politicians to oversee those who have been appointed.Yet, the lack of strength in the criticism does not guarantee that any presidential system will automatically lead to a more democratic regime. Clearly, the parliamentary system has good and bad implementations as well. On the other hand, it is impossible to maintain the current system. The question is whether there is a meaningful justification for a transition from the parliamentary to a presidential system in Turkey, and the answer to this question should be sought within the context of “stability,” as a member of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission had recently pointed out. In other words, the transition from a parliamentary to a presidential system should be implemented only if a more stable administration can be achieved.Ironically, this is one of the critical arguments voiced by proponents of the presidential system. Prerequisites to stability in Turkey include a solution to the Kurdish issue and the drafting of a “new” and truly democratic constitution. Given the fact that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are against both the presidential system and decentralization and that they are working to block the constitution drafting process, we can understand why ErdoIan insists on the presidential system. Therefore, Westerners should stop categorically defending parliamentarianism, but focus on versions of both systems that can reinforce democracy and get rid of their uneasiness about ErdoIan’s ability to make sound assessments.

SOURCE: Today Zaman

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