His Majesty’s constitutionalist
His admirable resume in parliament’s book of profiles says he is a professor of constitutional law; he did research at the Sorbonne and has served as chairman of parliament’s constitutional committee for the last three terms. Moreover, Professor Burhan Kuzu is both the loudspeaker of His Majesty’s quest for a “Turkish-style” presidential system, and fun…
In 2012, he (literally) threw the EU’s annual progress report on Turkish candidacy to the floor. He called Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a “f-g.” He thinks the name of the newly-elected Greek prime minister is SYRIZA – Prime Minister SYRIZA: No doubt, you’ll perform better than your predecessor, Mr. NEA DIMOKRATIA.
Professor Kuzu portrayed the mining disaster in Ermenek last year –which killed 18 workers- as a “natural disaster.” More recently, he took a joke on social media seriously and tweeted that “20 percent of ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] members are graduates of Harvard University. Which means education does not stop one becoming a terrorist. Good religious education is a must.”
But one must trust the honesty of a serious politician who makes people laugh so much. Maverick politicians can instinctively tell the truth even when they serve at the Court of His Majesty.
Professor Kuzu’s scream, “The King is naked!” came when His Majesty was vehemently denying the authenticity of a slew of audio recordings which unmasked Islamist corruption. “Even if the audio recordings are genuine, the nation won’t believe them,” he said. He was right. Municipal and presidential elections in 2014 showed that either “the nation did not believe them,” or that “it did not care,” but not that the recordings were not authentic.
On Feb. 4, Hürriyet published a colorful interview with Professor Kuzu – who sounded a bit offended that he has not been appointed a minister in the last three terms. “What [quality] do I not possess and the others [ministers] possess?” he asked, rather childishly.
But the punch line of the interview was His Majesty’s quest for an executive presidential system. And being the chairman of parliament’s constitutional committee and a fierce supporter of the presidential system, Mr. Kuzu was the right man to interview. Once again, Mr. Kuzu proved not only that he is fun, but that ignorance is bliss at the court of His Majesty.
Mr. Kuzu defended that his draft bill for the presidential system gave both the president and parliament the power of abolition over each other – hence the balance of power between the execution and legislature. Then he explained why:
“Why does the presidential system not work in South America, in Uruguay, Paraguay? Because in those countries, the power of abolition is vested in one party [the president]. The man [the president] is a dictator. He does not even go to elections.”
Mr. Kuzu will be a happier man if His Majesty amends the constitution and runs Turkey from his 1,150-room palace and private jet, which have cost the Turkish taxpayer about $700 million – and without checks and balances. His Majesty thinks a ballot box mandate means no judicial or legislative controls over the president. But since Mr. Kuzu mentioned Uruguay and Paraguay as examples of failed systems where dictators don’t even go to polls - whereas the Turkish system will be a success story- let’s talk Uruguay and Paraguay.
On Apr. 21, 2013, Horacio Cartes was elected president of Paraguay with 45.8 percent of the vote, slightly higher than the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 43 percent in municipal polls in March 2014, and only six percentage points less than what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won in the presidential elections in August.
In Uruguay, President Jose Mujica was elected in 2009 with more than 52 percent of the national vote. Mr. Mujica is portrayed as “the world’s humblest president” due to his austere lifestyle and his habit to donate 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charity.
Mr. Mujica lives on a modest farm on the outskirts of Montevideo and declines to live in the opulent presidential palace or use its staff. He drives a Volkswagen Beetle, valued at $1,800, which was the entirety of the mandatory annual personal wealth declaration he filed in 2010.
The dictators Cartes and Mujica must learn democracy from Turkey.