Erdoğan wants strong presidency after poll
AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated that changing Turkey’s administrative system into a presidential one will help the country’s further development, just like other countries with a system based on a strong president. He said such a change would “remove the cacophony.”
“I believe that the presidential system will reinforce Turkey’s transformation process from being a country whose agenda is set by other countries to a country that sets the agenda. This is as sure as two and two is four. The biggest advantage that the presidential system will give us will be the removal of the cacophony,” Erdoğan told reporters on board his presidential jet, as he returned from his four-day trip to Africa.
Q: You want a presidential system. Is there any discord within the government on this issue?
A: First of all, I believe that the presidential system will reinforce Turkey’s transformation process from being a country whose agenda is set by other countries to a country that sets the agenda. This is as sure as two and two is four. The biggest advantage that the presidential system will give us will be the removal of the cacophony. It will have an important effect on decision-making processes. I think speeding this process up will bring about results. We would be deceiving ourselves if we thought that we have a prompt decision-making process at the moment.
Secondly, we can always be much more productive. We are still not there yet, this is obvious. We should let the productive economy function so we can get results. At this point, Turkey has shortcomings [in investments] ... I believe that we would get more successful results in the fields of investments - be it infrastructure or superstructure - under the presidential system.
Now, the kind of presidential system it will be is being discussed: The American system, a semi-presidential one like in France, or another type? We should state this very openly: Let’s look at the most developed countries, how many of them have a presidential system? Almost all of them. What does this indicate? It proves that [the presidential system] yields results. So, if it yields results, why do we have to keep this shackle on our feet?
Q: Why is this existing system a shackle?
A: I have worked with two presidents; I had different working styles with the first one and with Abdullah Gül. We would not have been able to work so comfortably if there was anyone other than [Gül]. You asked whether there is a problem of harmony within the government. Of course, we are in coordination [with the government], so hopefully there won’t anything like that. I will be a facilitator and the government will continue to work comfortably. There will always be others fabricating rumors; there are those who want the failure of the current government ... People who are disseminating claims that I have a problem with the government are only trying to reach their own targets, but they won’t be able to do so easily.
Q: Is there a disagreement with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on the adoption of the presidential system?
A: Look, this is not an issue we have just begun to talk about recently. This is an argument I have been supporting from my days as the mayor [of Istanbul]. It is not something I began to talk about when I became the prime minister. We have always discussed this issue with [Davutoğlu], both in his capacity as a chief advisor, then as the foreign minister. We raised the issue of the presidential system during the presidential elections too. I think this is one of the most important arguments to be made by Davutoğlu too – because it is one of the most significant issues we have underlined for the new constitution. I am of the opinion that this will mark an important issue for the [upcoming parliamentary] elections, because it can eliminate the deficiencies of Turkey’s system.
Q: There are those who argue that the presidential system will eliminate check and balances and drag the country into an anti-democratization process.
A: On the contrary, checks and balances in the presidential system do not exist in our current system. For example, Barack Obama cannot take a step if the House of Representatives or the Senate do not authorize him, in a fiscal decision or anything else. He can’t sell a helicopter [to a country] if he cannot pass it [through the House of Representatives and the Senate]. Could he sort out Obamacare? Everything went upside down even after he thought he had done it!
Q: Do you want a system with effective checks and balances mechanisms?
A: It must be there, but [the president] should also be able to use the power he has. Obama has now lost his power at the House of Representatives and at the Senate. If he had kept his power [at the Senate], then he could have got the necessary authorization from there. But he is now at risk of not getting the necessary authorization that he needs. In the case of a powerful government under the presidential system, there will not be any blockage from either the House of Representatives or from the Senate.
But I also defend the one-parliament system over the dual-parliamentary system. Our current one-parliament system should be preserved, and there should be no waste of time there either. A dual-parliament system would cause delays [in decision-making processes]. If you are a strong government, you will give the authority to the president and then will check him.