Turkey’s top business organization against presidential system: Chairman

Turkey’s top business organization against presidential system: Chairman

Cansu Çamlıbel ISTANBUL
Turkey’s top business organization against presidential system: Chairman

TÜSİAD sees parliamentary system more suitable for Turkey, the organization’s chairman Haluk Dinçer (R) has told Hürriyet reporter Cansu Çamlıbel. HÜRRİYET photo, Levent KULU

Turkey’s top business organization, TÜSIAD, is against a regime change toward presidential system, its leader has said, while also complaining of the country’s poor judicial system.

“Our position regarding the speculation of the presidential systems coming after the elections is extremely clear. We say the most suitable system for Turkey is a parliamentary system,” Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Haluk Dinçer has said in an interview with daily Hürriyet.

“We are of course against a Turkish-style presidential system,” he said. “A system is a whole, and we are worried that an understanding of ‘I will take the features that I like, and will not take the ones that I don’t’ could take Turkey backward from the point it is at right now,” he said.

The possibility of a regime change from a parliamentary to president system has been discussed in Turkey for years, as former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who became Turkey’s first elected president in August polls, has made no secret that he favors the presidential system as a more efficient method of governing.

Speaking during the interview, Dinçer highlighted that his institution was not against the presidential system “categorically,” but favors a parliamentary system, seeing it as “more appropriate for Turkey’s constitutional tradition and political culture.”

The businessman also argued against talk about the formation of a sui generis hybrid system that integrates features of both systems.

TÜSİAD, Turkey’s largest business organization, which represents the top bosses in the country, has been urging the introduction of legislation that will enhance the balance of powers and democracy in the country, which has sometimes pit the organization against the government in the past.

The bosses’ club also drew attention to the urgent need to write a brand-new civilian Constitution and make significant reforms to the judicial system.

When asked about the government’s ongoing feud with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen during the interview, Dinçer also focused on the shaken trust in the country’s judicial system.

“We see that there is no impartial and independent judiciary in Turkey,” he said. 

Avoiding commenting on the allegations addressed at both sides, the TÜSİAD leader emphasized the rising difficulties in knowing the truth in Turkey’s judicial processes.

“We see the claims about the Fethullah Gülen community as extremely serious, but it is impossible for me or TÜSİAD to know which one of these is right or wrong. If you remember, we have seen very serious allegations in very serious public cases like Balyoz and Ergenekon. Today, we are at a point in which we certainly cannot know what is real, what is made up, what is fiction,” he said.

“We clearly see that there is a need for a healthily working judicial process in Turkey to unearth the truth behind these claims. But, on the other hand, we see that the public has no trust or respect left for the judiciary due to things experienced in the past,” he said.

Gov’t control over DEİK ‘outdated’

The chairman also criticized changes made to the structure of a privately administrated foreign trade body, Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEİK), to put the organization under the control of the state.

“The government sees DEİK as a tool to support its foreign economic activities,” Dinçer said, when asked about DEİK’s subordination to the Economy Ministry.

“For me, this model is an outdated model. You cannot tell about this model to advanced economies, to advanced democracies. They would have difficulties meeting with a DEİK that represents the business world under the control of the state,” he said.

‘Corruption not surprising’

Dinçer also drew a dark picture on the issue of corruption in the country, saying the business world was not surprised by the eruption of the Dec. 17, 2013, corruption probe and predicted that graft in the country would rise.

“We clearly know that there is corruption in Turkey and is on the rise,” he said, noting that studies reported by the OECD and Transparency International also indicated problems with graft.

“In the survey that we conducted with 800 businesspeople, 37 percent of respondents said there was corruption in the sector in which they operate, and 46 percent say there is a tendency for these to increase. Therefore, the things we saw in the Dec. 17 process are not surprising for the business world,” he said, adding that he was not particularly referring to any ministers.

‘Our addressee is the PM, not the president’

The relationship between Erdoğan and TÜSİAD, Turkey’s most influential business group, has always been thorny, but Erdoğan’s attendance at the organization’s High Consultation Council meeting on Sept. 18 was seen by many as possibly marking a thaw in the chilly relations.

Touching upon the current condition of relations with the president, Dinçer said the organization did not have any problems with Erdoğan but that “TÜSİAD’s addressee is not the president, it is the prime minister and the ministers related to our field.”

Dinçer reportedly set to leave post

The interview came as Hürriyet has learnt from sources close to the matter that Dinçer is set to leave after six months at the helm of TÜSİAD.

Dinçer will not stand as a candidate for chairman at the group’s annual congress on Jan. 22, 2015, sources said.

The businessman notified TÜSİAD’s Presidential Council about his decision to leave the post and did retreat from his decision despite several attempts to convince him otherwise, they informed.

TÜSİAD board members Cansel Başaran Symes and Şükrü Ünlütürk are seen as favorite candidates to replace Dinçer, according to sources.