Socio-political Analysis of Presidential System, and New State Structure in Turkey
OPINION: PROF. DR. Hüsamettin İNAÇ*
It is obvious from the context of the recent presidential debate leaded by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the majority of votes in the referendum will be in favor of the system change and the system will be changed with great enthusiasm.
As it is generally known, there is a profound discussion about the transition to a presidential system for a long time in Turkey. It is expected to have a referendum on the system change, legal process of which was initiated in April by the AK Party government and parliamentary support of one of the three opposition parties. The proposal of the new system, whose name is changed as “presidency of the republic” in line with Turkish governmental practices, has been intensively discussed from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Starting from the Second Constitutional era, which began in 1908, the presidential debates, which were on the agenda with Said Halim Pasha, were defended by politicians such as Erbakan, Demirel, Türkeş and Özal, who had deeply influenced Turkish political life, but none had access to the political and social growth that could make this system change possible.
On January 20, the second round of constitutional amendments to the presidency’s authority (in other words, the presidential regime) was completed and a referendum decision was made. Now our people (the public) will decide. The Turkish nation, which is always discreet, will use their sovereignty rights in the referendum that is planned to be held in this April. Unless there is a big surprise, it is expected that the proposed changes will be accepted. With this change, the regime of the state does not change, but especially the executive system is preparing for a radical transformation. We can now say that the tutelage system will be abolished and that both the Legislature and the Executive will operate in a more independent and autonomous way.
Of course, this day was not easily reached. For decades the presidential system has been thought and discussed dozens of times in our country. Often politicians, especially some of the Presidents of the Republic had their agenda with such requests. Not only the politicians who used to be president of the republic but also many politicians in the 70s stated that the current obstacles could only be overcome by presidency and they even made this clear in their election manifesto. However, this situation has never been changed or encouraged to change. For this reason, our governing system always had to be blocked for political reasons. The constantly blocked parliamentary system could only be solved through the coups. There is no need to talk about the results of coups, or to think about it. Because, the results are quite obvious.
Constitutional arrangements made to have a well-functioning system, which was blocked in some way, led to another hurdle of obstruction. Indeed, with the reasons and consequences, the July 15 coup attempt perhaps was the most terrible example of this. The executive power was constantly manipulated and politically blocked. This arrangement, also known as the presidential system, will open up the Execution. Thus, firstly the dual executive system will end and secondly the political manipulations that will take place will also be cut off.
However, having the executive on one hand does not seem to solve the problems alone. Because the different sections of the society, which are trying to create concern in the society, and main opposition party are arguing that the system will create the one man, even the dictator, in a brutal manner. Redesigning the new system will seriously reduce these concerns. Of course, the change will not give rise to a totalitarian regime, as it is claimed by the opposition. Because the equilibrium system is built precisely like the main column of a building. Now it is time to cover the walls of this equilibrium system with a protective coating that will not allow any flow of all kinds of rain and snow. Well, how will the walls and roof of this new building be made stronger? The real question is this… The answer to this question is to establish a new centralized structure of the new system with a series of laws and to adapt the Execution to the flexibility and speed that the Age requires.
The primary task to be completed after the new executive system is to seriously go over the central administration. Then the central task of the central administration is to revise the provincial system. Therefore, we have to seriously structure public administration. As the current structure is a representative of the old institutional structure, it is often a candidate for bringing the problems of the past to the agenda. With its current structure, Turkish Public Administration is seriously cumbersome, overgrown, and problematic with its organizational structure as well as it’s functioning. The public administration that is overgrown and infiltrated into every aspect of everyday life has some troubles to solve the existing problems and it also has difficulties in fighting all kinds of separatist and destructive illegal structures, especially the FETO. We have to establish a rich central administration (in terms of staff and content) in accordance with the Presidential system in order to be able to fix this. This kind of public administration needs a well-trained and efficient civil service system that attaches importance to merits.
It is possible to apply the work to be done in this matter within a three-stage plan. First, the central administration must be restructured. If necessary, new ministries should be set up or ministries that cannot adapt to the era must be abolished. Secondly, there must be a reform of the local administrations, which is effective and free from any separatist politics. For this purpose, the number of metropolitan municipalities can be increased. The third stage is, of course, the establishment of an effective and efficient public administration system that is re-structured and gives importance to merits. As long as these arrangements are not made or the realization is delayed, the problems of the executive based on the past can occur again but this time it will be stronger and more often.
Well then, how this new presidential model will change administration system and in what direction?
• With the presidential system, decisions will be taken more quickly and the possibility that the government will not be formed after the election will cease.
• Centralizing the state will prevent crises that are very easy to be created in the parliamentary system.
• The president, who must get the votes above fifty percent, will appeal to every segment of society, and this will prevent disintegration as it provides social cohesion. The only way to return Turkey from this path it has entered is by breaking it down.
• Turkey can play a much more effective role with the presidential system in the newly formed alliance.
• Assigned bureaucrats will lose their power to rule elected and national power will manifest itself in real and absolute terms.
• The link between the legislative and the executive will be broken and corruption and any kind of abuse will ultimately be prevented.
• The parliament and its members will only deal with the tasks such as making, removing, and changing laws.
• The centralization of the state will be ensured and it will be the only effective power in the formation of the collective mind politics
• In Turkey the assigned is superior to the selected. This shows that the sovereignty does not belong to nation, and that the national power does not manifest itself in the parliament. The national power will be able to be reflected at the parliament with the presidential system.
• A new world will be established with Trump, Putin and Erdogan. Only if we achieve the transition to a presidential system that strengthens executive and has a strong external political reflex, we can be a part of this structure.
As a result, the presidential system will make it possible to have quick decisions both inside and outside the country by centralizing the state, preventing parliamentary crises, fragmentation and separation and making it a strong member of a new alliance to be established internationally. The chaos based on the constitutional legitimacy of the division of decision-making into three parts (as Parliament, the President and bureaucrats) will be prevented so that possible scenarios such as coalitions, early elections and weak governments will take place on the dusty shelves of history.
*Head of Political Science and International Relations; Dean of Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Dumlupinar University / email@example.com