Two issues between AK Party and MHP
The name of the debated “executive presidential system” has become the “President of the Republic” system. There have been significant advancements in the talks between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
It has been reported that the climate is positive but this does not mean there are no problems. As a matter of fact, there are two complications. AK Party General Secretary Abdulhamit Gül and MHP deputy Mehmet Parsak will meet again. If Gül and Parsak succeed in solving the problem, then Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli will meet and flesh out the package.
Whoever I speak to in AK Party is telling me, “We better not sacrifice the system for the calendar,” but there is a referendum expectation in April and May.
There are 12 articles in the package; however, from the law-writing technique, there are two articles which have many clauses. First, there are repealed articles… While transferring to the head of the republic system, there are articles that are removed. Articles concerning executive power are among them. Second, there are articles where expressions are changed.
There are also transition provisions. The head of the republic system will start in 2019. If the transition provisions are not very clear, then there could be a chaos.
Behind the scenes of the AK party and MHP talks, there are two problems that have not yet evolved into a crisis. We can call them difference in approach.
1- The most important issue is concerning the head of the republic and his/her party. MHP does not oppose the president being a member of a political party but opposes that he/she is the chair of the party. AK Party, on the other hand, wants the presidential system mostly for this aspect. For this reason, this is a serious issue. If a crisis is to erupt, then this will be its source. However, both sides are expressing that they do not see this as an “unsolvable” problem. AK Party thinks that a president at the wheel of the executive power and another person at the wheel of the party may constitute two separate power groups. This dual system may pave the road to friction. Even though its name has been changed, the system is the presidential system. They argue that a president who can be a party member should also be able to become the chair of the party. MHP, on the other hand, does not oppose to the president becoming a party member but does not agree to the president chairing the party. There is a formula AK Party has developed to overcome this problem. That is not to categorize the relationship of the president with his/her party. “A negative clause that the president cannot be the chair of the party should not be included in the constitution, according to AK Party. The president can determine the level of that relationship himself/herself.”
2- The other problem is experienced on the accountability of the president. AK Party does not oppose to the accountability of the head of the republic but they want the process of Supreme Council, setting up of an investigation committee and the referral to the Supreme Council to be arranged properly.
Gül and Parsak will discuss the matters. However, let me correct a wrong opinion about the MHP: There is no proposal that an investigation can be opened with the signatures of 55 MHP deputies. There is no clause that the rate of votes of the president has to be reached for him or her to be referred to the Supreme Council.
Also, there is no clause in the package that one fourth of the cabinet will be selected from the parliament. Thus, MHP does not have an opposition in this.
Another aspect that is being worked on is the power of the president to dissolve the parliament. MHP is against the unilateral dissolution of power. AK Party finds it appropriate to work on a mutual termination power. For this reason, it does not emerge as a problem, but no consensus has been reached on this yet.
We have entered a critical stage in the head of the republic system.