Turkey faces division ‘if no shift to presidency’

Turkey faces division ‘if no shift to presidency’

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
Turkey faces division ‘if no shift to presidency’ Turkey could face division if it does not shift to a presidential system, PM Binali Yıldırım has asserted, in response to the main opposition’s warning that a change in the administrative system could bring about the separation of the country. 

A quarrel between the government and the opposition has intensified as the ruling party has presented presidential models to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking an executive presidency. 

“They say, ‘Turkey will be divided if the presidential system is introduced.’ In fact, Turkey is at risk of being divided in the event it does not shift to a presidential system,” he said Oct. 30.

“I explicitly say it: the presidential [system] will exist within the unitary system. Nobody can say the presidential system will bring about a [federal] state system or divisions,” he said in an address to Justice and Development Party (AKP) colleagues at a meeting in Istanbul. 

Yıldırım’s statement came as a response to Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu who warned the government that a shift to a presidential system would divide the country. 

The row between Kılıçdaroğlu and Yıldırım has escalated as the ruling party accelerated its work on drafting a new constitution that includes a change to the executive presidential system. 

“The president was elected by the people, therefore he has political responsibility,” Yıldırım said. “What needs to be done is to make the de facto situation compatible with the existing constitution. Let’s all make these changes in our constitution, including the presidential system, together.” 

AKP preparing charter drafts

In the meantime, the AKP submitted a constitutional draft to Erdoğan, daily Hürriyet has learned from sources. The first draft, which was submitted to Erdoğan last week, included 30 statutory provisions on a presidential system including the related provisions. 

The constitutional draft of the presidential regime change would set presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019 while granting three additional powers to Erdoğan until the elections. “The parliamentary and presidential elections will be held at the same time,” Yıldırım said Oct. 31.

Temporary provisions to grant president additional powers

The transitional period was one of the areas of concern about the new constitutional change since it was not certain if the authorities of the existing president would remain within the previous constitutional boundaries or not. The draft answers the question by introducing temporary provisions which grant three additional authority to Erdoğan until the elections.

If the public approve the constitutional draft in a referendum, Erdoğan will immediately have the authority to chair the ministerial cabinet, assign and dismiss ministers and restore his link with the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Presidential authorities are drafted

The draft will also grant Erdoğan with all presidential authorities assigned by the new constitution. According to the draft, the president will be the head of the state and the executive. Domestic and foreign policies will be implemented by the president who will also continue to hold the title of supreme military commander. The president will have the ability to approve and veto laws legislated by parliament and to go to a referendum.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has prepared two constitutional drafts, which include the change to a presidential system, but they will not be issued unless a majority in a parliamentary vote is guaranteed, Kurtulmuş said. 

“There are two paths that can be pursued. The first one is the proposition of an extended constitutional change, which means a fully new constitution. We have prepared and completed such a draft. Another path is a draft which includes smaller-scale constitutional changes which concern the basic issues. We have prepared that, too. The AKP has two drafts in hand,” Kurtulmuş said. 

 “In order to finalize the constitutional change, we have to see the stance and manners of the opposition parties,” he added. 

“We will listen to the other parties’ opinions in order to reach 330 seats in parliament. We will listen to what they will say, and then we will act. We won’t act unless we are sure that parliament will give 330 votes,” he said. “We will initiate matters after we see that it will pass.”