Dimitris Rapidis

Erdoğan’s AKP has proposed to the Turkish Parliament the guidelines for the establishment of a presidential system – a major initiative that is aimed to alter the entire political system of Turkey that since independence in the 1930s its was running under the parliamentary model. If the plan is accepted, Erdoğan can aspire for an additional term, this time from the presidential seat.

Why is Turkish PM endeavoring to transform the political system? There are several reasons behind his idea.

First, Erdoğan’s plan sees himself as the next President of Turkey as he is not eligible to run for PM in the next elections. By establishing a presidential system he can run for another term and achieve to continue ruling Turkey for the years to come. Here lies his megalomanic and egoistic perception of power as he might possibly consider himself as the one and only capable of governing Turkey. From this prism, if presidential system is to pass, and Erdoğan achieves to become President, there is a direct danger that politics in Turkey might become extremely polarized and power relevantly authoritative. I am not talking about “dictatorship” -it is not the proper term as many vied to openly hint about it- but mainly about a maneuvering to retach himself to power by weakening democratic procedures and developing a blind and monolithic perception of statemanship. This is similar to what Putin is delicately endeavoring through altering roles in power between himself and Medvedev in Russia.

Second, since 2002 Erdoğan has meticulously developed a broad plan of sweeping away any sign of absolutism and corruption in the army and the judiciary by bringing into court high-ranked militants being implicated into scandals of coup détat and dismissing judiciary personnel implicated into scandals of corruption. According to his belief -and tracking down his deeds 10 years now- Erdoğan shows no trust to institutions that exert checks and balances to the government simply because he is also victim of the discrimination and absolutism the entire political system has invested him with before his being elected for PM. Erdoğan was in prison before his statemanship, and he is now taking his personal revenge.

Third, his plan of transforming Turkey from a pariah state for both Europe and Middle East into a pivotal power with growing geopolitical leverage in its wider region is something in progress four years now and especially after the nomination of Prof. Davutoğlu as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Erdoğan-Davutoğlu duo has achieved to solidify Turkey’s soft and hard politics, by exerting an offensive rherotic and dynamic in energy, investments, foreign affairs, regional politics, in order to shape and crystallize Turkey’s strategic doctrine, the so-called “strategic depth” designed and brought into practice these years now. It is without doubt that Turkey has achieved to increase its strategic leverage in the Middle East by exerting strong mediating roles (e.g. in Iran’s nuclear debate, the Palestinian issue, the conflict in Lebanon, the developments in the Arab Spring). Turkey has also played the role of the most secular state in the Arab World, trying to shape the image of a democracy that is open to reforms, development and growth, by simultaneously accepting the role and power of religion in the modern Arab societies. And Turkey has achieved to strengthen its image in the Arab World without being an Arab state.

Fourth, the growth miracle of the country was one of the most prominent accomplishments of Erdoğan during his chairmanship. He cut off dependence from the IMF’s economic program by bringing fresh air in domestic economy, boosting rowth, investments, and consumption, in contrast with any austerity measures imposed by the Fund. During his years Turkey has been included amid the most prosperous countries in terms of growth per GDP, with vast development, and consequently a boost in national confidence. Now that the global crisis is causing deep and pervasive recession, Turkey has achieved to sustain a proper standard of global competitiveness in business and the markets.

After all, Erdoğan is considered as one of the most successful politicians in Turkish history. But what about human rights development? What about gender equality? What about the role of religion in politics and the social modernization? What about the Kurdish issue? And what about growth and development in parts of the country other than Istanbul and the touristic areas of Minor Asia, Antalya, and the Caspian Sea? What about the concerns of the youth, the employment prospects for the less privileged, and the growing rates of illiteracy?

I am sure that no answer can be given either through a parliamentary or presidential system for the moment. Turkey might possibly need more pluralism, and not necessarily another political and institutional system.

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