The Ottomans and the presidential system

The Ottomans and the presidential system

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, as he was defending the presidential system they have submitted to the parliament, said: “Sir, whose system is this presidential system? Nobody’s system. It is the outcome of 600 years of Turkey, the Turkish nation’s administration tradition.” However, in all the phases of the Ottoman history, there was a grand vizier position which in a way corresponded to today’s prime ministerial position. Moreover, it was not unheard for certain grand viziers to be stronger than the sultan.

Reformist Sultan Mahmud II launched the modern cabinet system, which pointed the way toward parliamentarianism. It advanced in the periods of constitutional monarchy and the republic, reaching its modern form.  

However, in the presidential system, there is no prime minister and cabinet.

No matter what system there is, the basic principles to be focused on in this age are the separation of powers and the principle of checks and balances.

Well, isn’t history important? Or course it is: To view history with an exploring eye to see the direction of advancement, not with animosity and valor, is mind-opening in all ways.

There, the advancement in Ottoman history took the direction of the “cabinet system,” forming a parliamentarian system.

The unitary state is also the outcome of historic advancement. The prime minister was referring to the republic in this matter quite justifiably. He was pointing out that since there was not going to be a system of states, “We formed the unitary structure in the republic,” (Jan. 4).

However, during the “resolution process,” there was a constant reference to the “state system among the Ottomans.”

As can be seen, it would be very misleading to review history with the aim of collecting evidence that would be of good use today. What needs to be done is to review the development of history.

At this point, let me mention Kadir Koçdemir’s academic book, “The National State and Globalization,” (Ötüken Publications, 2004).

You will remember that Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Bursa deputy Kadir Koçdemir criticized the system suggested by the government and declared he would vote against it. He was the subject of slander due to that.

In his book, Koçdemir explains the stages of history; the authoritarians before the state, as well as monarchies, monarchical states and modern nation-states…

In past times, the legitimacy of rulers was based on God, the dynasty and structures such as feudalism. The Ottoman and European monarchies were inadequate in solving three issues that emerged with the development of industry and education.

In monarchies, people’s participation was not ensured, so social issues grew. Here, in our country, for instance, the remedy was sought in constitutional monarchy and parliament.

Societies that had advanced through industry and education had become ungovernable through imperial edicts. Laws and institutions were required; in our country this started with the political reforms of the 1839 during the Tanzimat. 

Koçdemir, in his book, explained the advancement of democracies especially after 1945. He drew attention to “independent checks and balance councils” for a more effective administration.

He also analyzed the issues of the nation-state in the era of globalization and the issues of globalization.
The direction of historic development is apparent: No matter what system it is, they are the separation of powers, checks and balances and fundamental rights and freedoms as in decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). When the system is mentioned, we have to talk about these.

Criticisms should be addressed with academic language, not animosity and heroism. Because if the matter is smothered in animosity and heroism, if we say “yes” or “no” without knowing the content, what really would we be doing?