The presidential system and the Kurdish issue

The presidential system and the Kurdish issue

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revived the debate on presidential system last week. Everybody knows that Erdoğan is the sort of politician who is so power-driven that no measure of power satisfies his drive for more.

The debate on the presidential system is nothing other than a euphemism for his crave for more power.

Nevertheless, it is not the only stake behind the recent debate on the presidential system. From the beginning of this debate, I have sensed that it is also thought to concern the Kurdish issue. 
Unfortunately, the governing party insists on pursuing a policy of suppression on the one hand and of “cheap bargaining” on the other hand. Moreover, these policies manage to find resonance among Kurdish political circles.

A short while ago, a Kurdish MP wrote an article hinting that Kurds may support Erdogan’s presidency (if not the presidential system) in return for a moderation of governmental politics concerning Kurds. Moreover, the theme of “the presidential system in return for Kurdish rights” started to circulate among politicians even before Erdoğan started the debate. Finally, a pro-government columnist (for the Taraf daily) stated that the “presidential system can solve the Kurdish problem.” 

The present government has always been very successful in manipulating the political debate in general, and Kurdish politics in particular, and the debate on the presidential system seems to be the latest of these manipulations. Nonetheless, success in manipulating the political debate is not the same thing as “successful politics” or “successful governance,” especially with regard to the Kurdish issue.

Turkey has suffered more than enough from confusing “manipulation” with “governance,” and confusing cheap bargaining politics with sustainable political negotiations. The Kurdish issue is the most risky of all the other problems of the country. The government may be trying to seduce the minds of some Kurdish politicians and circles by using the presidential system as a bargain piece. Kurdish circles who advocate federalism may be particularly prone to such a proposal, having the US system in mind. But everybody who is concerned with the future of democracy in Turkey and the future of Kurds should know that considering such a deal will turn to be either a waste of time, or a disastrous delusion.

In a country where it is still blasphemous to discuss the Kurdish demands for a political status and/or “democratic autonomy,” the prospect of any sort of federalism is not very convincing. Besides, if there was a way of considering federalism or some other sort of autonomy as a political solution, the price paid should not be the presidential system; the parliamentary system can do better in this respect.

Finally, is it not obvious that the first casualty of a presidential election race in this country would be the demands of Kurds for a political status? 

It is not only Kurds, but all of us who live in Turkey that should be more concerned about sustainable political solutions for the future of democracy and for social peace, rather than deluding ourselves or being prone to be deluded by such debates and deals about changing to a presidential system.