Who shrank the term from five to four years?
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that on the day of the referendum, on April 16, the nation would take possession of the seal. When I read this, I thought, “Well, this means the seal was in the hands of others beforehand.”
But, I was still confused. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been ruling since 2002; it has the seal. Who has the seal then? Was it, as some people say, the United States that gave the seal to them, to make the Greater Middle East Project work? Could it be that they are fooling us?
But I remember very well. We held elections; a majority of our people voted for the AKP. The seal, thus, was first given to Abdullah Gül, then later to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
I was walking along the Bosphorus the other day when I saw AKP propaganda posters hung on street posts. One of them read, “Elections are held every five years. The president and the parliament are elected by the nation.”
I murmured, involuntarily, “God, help me protect my sanity.”
Before the constitutional amendments referendum held on Oct. 21, 2007, elections were held every five years anyway. Who was it at that time that was telling us that this term was too long and it had to be four years? Yes, you are correct; it was the then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
As a matter of fact, after that referendum, parliamentary elections started to be held every four years.
Now, guess who said these words on April 10, 2012: “We made one mistake. We have reduced the parliamentary term to four years. I wish we had not done that.”
You are correct again, it was Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Now, it is of course difficult to understand. They were saying they were doing a good thing when they lowered it from five years to four years; now they are saying that they are doing a good thing by increasing it to five years. Which one is correct? What if you are wrong again?
Let us leave aside the five-year issue. The poster also read, “The president and the parliament are elected by the nation.”
Well, good, but all the way since, it was again this nation who elected the parliament and the president, wasn’t it?
As far as I remember, elections were held in this country; we did not import voters from abroad. I remember, I went to the polling station and cast my vote in those elections then went to the paper to watch the results.
I was right when I said, “God, help me protect my sanity,” am I not?
No limit for deputies
Erdoğan said that if the constitutional changes are approved in the referendum, the number of vice presidents who will not be elected by popular vote, would be “one or two, or a maximum of three.”
Where did he draw this from the constitutional amendments package, I don’t know; because in the constitutional changes we will vote on, there is no such limit.
These are the words of Article 104 to be voted on in the referendum: “The president appoints his/her deputies and ministers and he or she removes them from office.”
I looked for it, I thoroughly searched the constitutional amendments text and I could not find any number anywhere related to this.
In other words, the president, if this constitutional change is approved, will be able to appoint any number of vice presidents. The president, I believe, apparently has not read this article fully, perhaps because of the rush.
This is what the Venice Commission has pointed out anyway. This is an effort for a change that has not been adequately debated and one that does not include certain situations that could be faced in the future.
First of all, it is badly written. There may not be any problems in overseas trips of the president; he or she may appoint somebody to stand in. However, in a sudden illness or, God forbid, in case of a death, who will stand in for him or her?
For 45 days, this person will rule the country with the powers of an elected president. An unelected vice president ruling a country is not something that can be accepted in a democracy.
In the U.S., eight vice presidents have taken over following the death of the president and one upon the resignation of the president. It has not been a problem there because there is only one vice president who is elected.
Only in countries like Azerbaijan that are not considered democratic are the vice presidents are appointed by the president. In no other democratic presidential system is there a similar situation; all the vice-presidents are elected.