A dispute between inoperative and absent systems

A dispute between inoperative and absent systems

Turkey has been suffering from a busy political and social agenda filled with protests, polarizations and police investigations for a coon’s age. Although a great many people expected this confusing atmosphere to disappear after the presidential election, it still persists.

Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government have been implementing policies undermining contemporary democratic notions and institutions, which served as pillars of an accountable and transparent state apparatus. Amid these harsh and tiresome developments, two new problematic issues have recently emerged. The first issue was a dispute between the Presidential Palace, some of its cabinet members and the Central Bank, a supposedly autonomous institution. The second issue came with the executives’ cacophonic declarations of the Kurdish peace process. With respect to its previous clashes, what happened between Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, consisted of a banal state.

At first glance, all this uproar seems to be a part  of the bargaining involved in politics, but I would like to argue that this high-level government quarrelling is a reflection of clashing interests in regard to a desired political system change: the inoperative parliamentary and absent presidential systems. In this respect, the issue is a theoretical one.

The Turkish political system is described as a unicameral parliamentary democratic system. It is well known that Erdoğan’s great desire is to convert this parliamentary system into a Turkish presidential system, something that is unknown and mysterious. The desire and wish for a new political system is considered a part of freedom of thought. Furthermore, any political subject with reasonable authority can make changes to the system. Nevertheless, if a political leader believes and behaves as if there is a new system in place, when in reality there isn’t, then this is where the problem starts. The political leader fictionalizes the insubstantial political area, by slowly creating his or her belief. Ultimately, reality and illusion become intertwined in the leader’s mind. Slavoj Zizek describes this situation as “failure to realize ignorance.” It is not enough to explain Erdoğan’s discourses and implementations (in reference to his daily political practices) as his great desire and passion in politics.

From this point of view, one can argue that Erdoğan ignores reality and acts in the absence of a presidential system. He not only exceeds the constitutional authority of his chair, but also manipulates the executive and legislative domains. In other words, he lives in an absent system, which, in part, has created the present complicated atmosphere.

The other reason is that the parliament has not been operating for a long time. Its discussions are neither efficient, nor are its laws useful for the whole of society. Moreover, people are unable to predict what members of parliament might do or say at any time, tending to treat any event with extraordinary mediocrity. There is a huge gap in the political system created by an inoperative parliament. In the Aristotelian philosophy of management, the state mechanism is a structure which nature creates, develops and changes via the human. Like nature, this structure hates gaps and seeks to immediately fill its gaps.

As a result, Erdoğan is currently trying to fill this gap by using his imaginary system. It is very hard to argue that he is doing this because he perceives this gap or natural ambition. Similar to some of the members of the inoperative system, resisting this relatively outside intervention. It is also hard to know if that they want to save their activity areas for their legal bases or preserve real political charisma.

Despite all of this, a dispute between an inoperative system and an absent system is taking place because of the lack of procreator politics. If one of the fundamental idiosyncrasies is solving the problems, Turkey needs a new political understanding with fresh actors.

Ahmet Erdi Öztürk is a PhD student in Ljubljana University’s Department of Social Science and Balkan Studies and a research fellow at the Turkey Institute in London.