Cooperation between PM and president is necessary, says former Turkish PM

Cooperation between PM and president is necessary, says former Turkish PM

Turan Yılmaz ANKARA
Cooperation between PM and president is necessary, says former Turkish PM

Former Prime Minister Yıldırım Akbulut. Hürriyet Photo

Former Prime Minister Yıldırım Akbulut, who was considered Turgut Özal’s “yes man” when the latter was elected president in 1989, has said “coordination between the president and the prime minister is a must for the sake of the governing of the country.”

Turkey is set to directly elect its president for the first time ever this August. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed at a recent meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) that his party would not lose power if he is elected president. He was responding to an AKP deputy who recalled that the Motherland Party (ANAP) lost power and support in 1989 after Özal, who was then the ANAP chair and prime minister, left his seat to Akbulut after becoming president.

Akbulut, however, told Hürriyet that Erdoğan would “not refrain” from using the powers of the presidency if he was elected as president in the August elections.

“Erdoğan will not be any less willing to use his authority as a president compared to Özal. If the prime minister says ‘the president has the authority but I won’t let him use his powers,’ and the president responds, ‘I’m the president, I won’t let you use your powers as prime minister,’ than the situation will be complicated. Harmony [between the prime minister and president] is necessary,” he said.

Akbulut added that the president has the constitutional authority to gather the Cabinet for a meeting whenever he wants, and that the prime minister has the right to not attend it. In such a case, the authorities of both the prime minister and the president may create tension in the governing of the country, he said.

Giving an example of such tension from his time as prime minister, Akbulut said he was against sending troops to Iraq during the Gulf War, while Özal insisted on sending troops without seeking the approval of Parliament. He stressed that the prime minister has ultimate responsibility for such decisions in the end.

Speaking over the weekend, Erdoğan emphasized that the ruling AKP was not at risk of losing power or splitting if he is elected president.

“When the late President Özal was elected president, his party was already losing votes. In our case, however, our votes are on the increase. We currently have 46 percent of the votes. One in every two people is voting for us,” he said.

Özal was elected as president in 1989 and left the party’s leadership to Akbulut, who was considered to be his “yes man.” However, under Akbulut’s leadership the ANAP lost its power and internal debates further weakened the party.