MEHMET Y. YILMAZ >Erdoğan loses the game show

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On his return flight from Saudi Arabia, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to reporters. This is what he said: “There is nothing to say that you can’t have a presidential system in a unitary state. There are already some examples in the world today, and also some from the past. You see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany. You also see the example again in various other counties.”

On the same day, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the following: “The correct one is the presidential system. An authoritarian structure could develop from the parliamentary system, as was the case with Hitler in Germany.” 

It’s confusing to read these two sentences back to back. Did Hitler’s Germany have a presidential system or a parliamentary system?  

Hitler was appointed prime minister from the parliament by President von Hindenburg. At that time, Germany was ruled by the parliamentary system. Later, Hitler changed the laws. 

President Erdoğan is wrong. 

He was also wrong when explaining why he thinks the presidential system is necessary. “When you look at developed countries,” he said, “you see that the overwhelming majority have this system.”

Out of all 28 EU countries, only Greek Cyprus is ruled by a presidential system and France has a semi-presidential system. All the others have parliamentary systems.

Out of the G-20 countries, eight have the parliamentary system. France and Russia are ruled by semi-presidential systems. Seven countries are ruled by presidential systems: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, the U.S., Indonesia and South Africa. Of the remaining two, one is Saudi Arabia, which is still a monarchy, and China, which has its own unique system.

As you can see, except for South Korea and the U.S., none of the presidential system countries are particularly developed. That is why they are called “emerging” countries.
Old Turkey in the New Year
When I looked at the morning papers yesterday, thinking I had woken up to a new year, it was as if everything was the same. Whatever happened in our country in the old days, the same is still happening today. 

Here’s one example: An academic Çise Atalay, who was lecturing at Amasya University’s Technology Department, was detained on the last day of the year by anti-terror teams after she finished her class. In class, she had discussed a subject involving human rights violations. 

Her students must have not liked what she said or the examples she cited. One phoned the police while sitting in class and tipped them off that she was “making terrorist propaganda.”

The police were immediately at the scene. Atalay was detained. With a ruling from the prosecutor, anti-terror teams searched her office and her home. She was later taken to court and the court ruled to release her pending investigation. 

From now on, Atalay doesn’t need to look for a new example of a human rights violation in her next class. What she experienced is a good enough example. 

A phone tipoff to the police is enough to deprive you of your freedom. A prosecutor who has no evidence can violate your privacy, issue search warrants for your home, personal belongings, and office. 

There can be only one reason for all this: The local police must have blacklisted or put her on record, because her mother was once a deputy candidate for the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). 

These kinds of incidents used to happen when my father was young. The blacklisted people by the police were always the usual suspects. 

It was like this in my youth and also in my daughter’s youth. 

On March 10, 2015, I published a letter that I received from an academic in Anatolia, containing the following section: “During classes, academics teach in fear. Especially in social sciences classes, the obligation to be careful when citing examples has turned into a nightmare. Some students, some of them from a political party, record the classes. Fear and concern lead to the erosion of science.”

When I read that letter at that time, I wondered if its writer could have exaggerated a little. Now I’m ashamed of myself for thinking this.

The “New Turkey” to which they have taken us is no different from the “oldest form” of Turkey.


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