JOOST – ErdoIan’s presidential vision is pure fiction

ErdoIan’s presidential vision is pure fictionLast Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)andidate in the August presidential election, gave a two hour speech to outline his vision. He talked about a booming and powerful “new” Turkey and presented his roadmap for the year 2023 goals that, in his view, a new government should focus on.

Before I continue, let me remove a possible source of misunderstanding. The title of this article might suggest that, basically, I am against ErdoIan presenting his vision for the future andor against the content of his Friday address.

That is not the case. I welcome every presentation of a plan for the times that lie ahead by a leading Turkish politician because, potentially, such a bold move would enable all of us to transcend the routine political bickering that so often dominates the news.

On ErdoIan’s vision itself, I agree with many parts of it, such as the need for a new constitution, an expanded Kurdish reconciliation process and its ambition to make Turkey a prosperous country and a leading regional player In all honesty, who could be against these broadly defined goals that were short on detail?My problem is twofold. One, I think that in the present parliamentary system, it is not up to presidential candidates to present big projects for the future, and two, I believe ErdoIan has lost all credibility on many of the promises he made.

The combination of these two objections makes ErdoIan’s speech on Friday a pure work of fiction. Even if elected, with the current rules he will not have the power to implement his ideas, and on top of that, on several issues his views are fully contradicted by the reality of his years in powerDoes this mean that a president should not have a vision for Turkey? That is not the point.

He may have one but, running for election, he should not suggest that once elected he will be in a position to implement that vision. According to the current constitution, the president does not have the power to rule the country.

That authority is vested in the prime minister and his government based on a majority in parliament. Therefore, it is not correct to pretend, as ErdoIan did in his speech, that Turkey has already moved to the kind of presidential system the AKP leader prefers.

It has not. We know ErdoIan wants to make maximum use of all the existing constitutional articles that would give him a bigger say in the day-to-day running of the country.

But even then, he will simply not have the competence, for instance, to order a new constitution. Under the current rules, it will be the newly elected parliament that has to take such a decision.

As Cengiz Aktar of BaheIehir University correctly observed, ErdoIan is clearly not preparing for the presidency as it is, “He is preparing for a totally new Putin-like presidency.”Then again, ErdoIan’s ambitions are one thing, the existing constitutional rules are another Only a new constitution that downgrades the role of the parliament and upgrades that of the president will allow ErdoIan to do whatever he likes.

Regarding ErdoIan’s lack of credibilityk, how can a politician who deliberately and consistently has always chosen to rely only on the 50 percent of the population that supports him and totally disregard the other half, present himself as the president of all Turks? How can the prime minister who continues to boast on his witch-hunt against everybody who dares to disagree with him, pretend to be an inclusive president? How can a presidential candidate who, in his previous political life, has shut down Twitter, micromanaged the dismissal of critical journalists and showed a deep distrust of an independent judiciary, be taken seriously when he proclaims, in a new life, to uphold democracy and freedom in the country?Unfortunately, we have come to a point in Turkey where at least 50 percent of the people simply do not trust ErdoIan anymore when he promises to do things most Turks would normally and in principle support. That mismatch is the result of years of polarizing policies and rhetoric by the presidential candidate most likely to win the August election.

One can only hope the composition of the new parliament will guarantee the survival of the current parliamentary system and will stop the rush toward a full-blown presidential system without any meaningful checks and balances.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman