Aye for the presidential system

Aye for the presidential system

Belgin Akaltan - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr
Aye for the presidential system

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How did we get here? Let me make a recap for those who have forgotten. There was a coalition government, the 57th government of Turkey. The year was 2002. Bülent Ecevit was the prime minister. It was soon after a major economic crisis and the taste of the bitter pill of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was in everybody’s mouth.

Devlet Bahçeli – yes, the same Devlet Bahçeli – was the first to mention it. The leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called for an early election on July 7, 2002. Just like today, nobody knew exactly what his real intention or his real thoughts were. There was no visible reason for an early election. 

Then other coalition partners followed suit. Maybe it is in the Turkish gene or in the Turkish politicians’ gene that they have to respond to a challenge with another challenge without thinking too much. Repeating; there was no definite reason for an early election. 

There was also Mesut Yılmaz, you probably forgot about him. He was the head of the third party in the coalition. He took the challenge. Then Ecevit said yes. All of these three parties who agreed to an early election were all ejected from parliament after the vote. I mean, what is the driving force behind any early election? To get more votes, right? I wonder if it was a first in the world’s parliamentarian history when a coalition government called for early elections to wipe itself out of the active political scene. 

They were experienced politicians, but obviously they had no notion of what is called opinion polls. They just challenged each other and went to the polls blindfolded. 

Ecevit was sick, or maybe he had always been sick, but this was hidden from the public. But, things were going fine. A sick leader and a weak government seemed to be a good formula for Turkey. 

Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had formed a new party but not too many people paid attention to it.

Some said the new Justice and Development Party (AKP) was about to become a phenomenon and was about to snatch the majority of all votes. Ecevit, nevertheless, opted for early elections, which was to become the last major decision of his political life. 

Then the early elections were held on Nov. 3, 2002. This all sounds like the most illogical progression from July 2002 to November 2002. 

The new party came to power with 34.3 percent of the votes. Half of them were protest votes, it was believed. The protest seems to be growing ever since even though there is nothing left to protest anymore. 

Now, 14 years have passed. Since that date, I have had difficulty understanding what has been going on but my opinion has no importance in this conjuncture, even though I feel like there are many others like me.
One fact is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a strong man and he absolutely gets what he wants. Whatever he sets his mind on, he achieves it. He knows the spirit of the voter. He wins all the elections. He has the power to make the masses follow him. I still have difficulty understanding why but it does not matter at all. I and people like me seem to have no clue. The opposition does not seem to understand what is going on either. 

So, it is time we face the facts. There is no saying “no” to this man. It is just rational to play along. There is no point in resisting. 

The constitution will change. There will be a presidential system. It might work. It may be good. Things will not be any different than today. There might even be peace...There might be less bloodshed. There might be peace...