Erdoğan pledges to change customary rules of the state
Nuray Babacan - Turan Yılmaz ANKARA
AA PhotoPresident-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has heralded an “overhaul of the customary rules of the state” of the Turkish Republic when he takes office at Çankaya Palace, while urging his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to secure a stronger parliamentary majority next year to enable them to re-write the Constitution.
“I will use all of the authorities granted to me in the Constitution. Until today, these authorities have not been used fully, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that I will not use them,” Erdoğan said at a closed-door meeting with deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) late on Aug. 14.
“They say that ‘This is the way the customs work.’ What customs?” said the outgoing prime minister, who was elected as president on Aug. 10 in the country’s first-ever direct election.
“For the first time, the president has been elected by the people, therefore a new custom has emerged. The ‘New Turkey’ will have new customs. It will be us who will shape these new customs and we will go on with these customs. We will reach our 2023 target this way,” Erdoğan added.
In the run-up to the election, he repeatedly argued that the current Constitution grants “executive power” to the president-elect who comes to the office via popular vote, just as the 1982 Constitution granted “executive power” to coup leader Kenan Evren.
Evren led the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup d’état, which ushered in a period of repression, torture and execution, primarily against the left. As the chief of the General Staff, Evren became the “natural chairman” of the transitional National Security Council (MGK), thus “the head of the state” as of Sept. 12, 1980.
Later, he became president following a referendum on the new Constitution and the presidency, but not by a constitutional procedure. The current 1982 Constitution is a legacy of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup.
“It is very important for the AK Party to get a victory in the 2015 elections, which will enable it to change the Constitution. I want you to get enough votes to change the Constitution,” Erdoğan told his lawmakers, referring to the parliamentary election set to be held next year.
Constitutional changes require either a two-thirds majority at Parliament or a popular vote.
AKP currently holds 313 of Parliament’s 550 seats, a strong majority but below the crucial two-thirds threshold.
The ruling party’s founding leader also reiterated the importance he attaches to making amendments in order to reduce the age of being able to be elected to 18 from its current 25. He also renewed an earlier warning to his AKP fellows to be on alert against efforts to “break their unity and brotherhood” and not to fall into “traps that would create cracks within the party.”