PM calls for presidential system based on separation of powers

Todays Zaman
Fecha de publicación: 
11 Nov 2015

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called on Tuesday for the introduction of an executive presidential system based on a balanced separation of powers, saying the current system created tensions between the president and prime minister.

In a live interview with state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), Davutoğlu said the government could discuss a new constitution and the "fight against terrorism" with opposition parties.

Davutoğlu also said that Turkey will embark on a major reform process in the next six months that will see it carry out economic, social and judicial reforms. He vowed that Ankara would not sacrifice its "fight against terrorism" for the Kurdish peace process.

On Tuesday, in addition to Davutoğlu's remarks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for reforms and the creation of a new constitution in the next four years, steps that would move the country closer to the executive presidency he has long sought.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) founded by Erdoğan swept back to single-party rule at a snap election on Nov. 1, taking 317 of the 550 seats in Parliament, just shy of the 330 seats required to hold a referendum on changing the Constitution.

Erdoğan argues that Turkey needs an executive presidency similar to that of the US or Russia, while his critics fear that it would consolidate more power in the hands of an authoritarian leader who brooks little dissent.

"The Nov. 1 election ushered in four years of stability and confidence. Let's make this period a time of reforms, prioritizing a new constitution," Erdoğan said at a commemoration ceremony for Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Alternative plan by AK Party

The Cumhuriyet daily reported on the fact that if the opposition parties do not cooperate with the AK Party in establishing the presidential system via a new constitution, the AK Party is preparing to bring an alternative proposal for the opposition parties to the agenda.

According to the report, the AK Party will propose to remove the Constitution's Article 101, which orders the president to cut all of his or her links with any political party to ensure full impartiality.

The Article 101 reads: “The president-elect, if a member of a party, shall sever his relations with his party and his status as a member of the Turkish Parliament shall cease.”

If this article is removed from the Constitution, Erdoğan will be able to act as both prime minister and president at the same time.

Erdoğan supports the formation of a “Turkish-style” presidential system that he claims will help the country's development by eliminating "multi-headedness" in state governance and thus pave the way for a more effective decision-making system. His ambitions were disrupted after the AK Party lost its majority in the parliamentary elections held on June 7. However, his ambitions were renewed after the AK Party regained its parliamentary majority in the snap election held on Nov. 1.

After the AK Party won an unexpected landslide in the general election, the prospect of a transition to a presidential system is being touted by government officials once again, amid rumors that Erdoğan is looking to pressure the ruling party to opt for a switch.

Turkey may hold a referendum on a new constitution to create an executive presidential system and discussions on the issue will accelerate in the period ahead, Erdoğan's spokesman said during a press conference on Nov. 4.

On Nov. 3, AK Party Deputy Chairman Yalçın Akdoğan also said they see the presidential system as important as the debate for a new constitution, underlining that the issue of a switch from a parliamentary system to an executive-style presidency “is one of the issues we [the AK Party] cannot renounce.”