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PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM
IN TURKEY

WHAT IS TO BE CHANGED?
Ali Ufuk ARIKAN - Turgut YILDIZ

Debates on the constitutional draft regarding the presidential system brought to the General Assembly of the Parliament by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) continues. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aims to legitimize the illegal but de facto authorities at his disposal and to further expand his span of authority.


Here are the anticipated changes the much disputed presidential system brings;

The Parliament to be Disempowered, All Authority to Erdoğan

One of the most conspicuous items of the draft is Article 8. According to this article, Erdoğan will have the following powers:

The President of the Republic is the head of the State. Executive authority belongs to the President of the Republic.


The President of the Republic represents the Republic of Turkey and Turkish Nation in his character of the Head of the State; he/she guarantees the application of the Constitution and the operation of State organs in an orderly and concordant fashion. If deemed necessary, he/she keynotes on the first day of legislative year in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.


He/she conveys his views on domestic and foreign affairs of the country to the Parliament. He/she proclaims the laws.


He/she has the authority to veto the draft laws to be reassessed by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.


He/she has the right to file an annulment action in the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that House Regulations of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a whole or any particular articles thereof are unconstitutional in terms of procedures and principles.



The President of the Republic has the authority to appoint and unseat his/her deputies and the ministers.


The President of the Republic has the authority to appoint and unseat high-ranked government executives, and regulates the rules and procedures thereof, by means of presidential decrees. He/she holds a referendum on Constitutional changes if deemed necessary.


He/she determines national security policies and takes necessary measures thereof.


He/she represents the Supreme Military Command of the Turkish Armed Forces in the name of the General National Assembly of Turkey.


He/she decides on Turkish Armed Forces’ exercise of power.


The President of the Republic can issue a presidential decree regarding issues on the executive power.

How Does The Current System Work?

According to the new draft, Erdoğan will become the chief executive and the head of the state. In the existing system, the executive authority is distributed between the President of the Republic and the Cabinet, and the Council of Ministers represents the government. The new draft annuls the Office of the Prime Minister, and centralizes the authority for assigning ministers in the hands of the President of the Republic. The President will also have the right to unseat ministers at will. 

Current System

Proposed System

Supervisory Power to be Annulled

The new draft proposes to annul Parliament’s supervisory power over the Council of Ministers. Accordingly, the Cabinet will be liable only to the President of the Republic.


Moreover, the vote of confidence, which the Parliament gives to the Council of Ministers before starting duty according to the current legislation, will be repealed as well. Another right currently held by the Parliament against the Cabinet, the motion of censure, is also to be repealed in the new system. The current system allows a parliamentary investigation if 10 percent of the total chairs votes “yes”, however the new system abolishes this right.


Jurisdiction Will Submit to Erdoğan

In the current system, the judiciary is assigned as follows: 46 percent by the President of the Republic, 41 percent by the Judicial Office itself, 8 percent by the Parliament, and 5 percent by the Cabinet.


The new system allows Erdoğan to be the sole authority in assigning the judiciary. If the draft is ratified, 69 percent of judiciary will be assigned by Erdoğan, whereas 31 percent by the Parliament. However, the new system proposes the President of the Republic to be also head of a political party. Thus, if the President’s party gains majority of seats in the Parliament, Erdoğan himself will determine 100 percent of the judiciary. 

Will Erdoğan be Liable to Account For? 

According to the new system, the following steps will become necessary to call Erdoğan to the Supreme Court:


  • In case of an accusation, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey can demand a prosecution against the President of the Republic by means of a motion approved by the absolute majority of the total member number.


  • The Assembly discusses the motion within one month of time and may decide to start a persecution by the approval of the three fifth of the total member number in a secret ballot.


  • The Grand National Assembly of Turkey may decide to bring the President to the Supreme Court by the approval of the three fifth of the total member number in a secret ballot.


  • If the President of the Republic is found guilty of any crime constituting an impediment to be elected, he/she is unseated.


In short, 301 MP votes will be necessary for a motion of persecution, which then will need 360 votes to start. For Erdoğan to be brought to the Supreme Court, 400 votes will be necessary. If such miracle happens to realize, Erdoğan is to be judged by the very Constitutional Court (under the title of the Supreme Court) that he assigns.

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION

 MPs will be able to submit a parliamentary question to the ministers and deputy chairmen but not directly to the President of the Republic. 



SUPERVISION

The supervisory power of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to inspect the Cabinet and Council of Ministers will be repealed. Two of the most crucial supervisory means, the motion of censure and parliamentary investigation will be abolished.

THE SUPREME BOARD OF JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS 

The epithet “supreme” will be removed from the HSYK. Number of members will be decreased from 22 to 12. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey will assign half of the members. The President of the Republic will appoint the other half. 

The President and The Party Leader

The existing constitution does not allow the President of the Republic for any political party affiliation. This means that the President is formally independent. The new draft will allow Erdoğan to be the Head of the State, the chief executive, and the party leader of the AKP at the same time.


Unconditional Power to Cancellation

According to the new draft, the President of the Republic will be able to abolish the Parliament without any justification. The related article is as follows:


The Grand National Assembly of Turkey may decide to repeat the elections by the approval of three fifth of the total member number. In this case, 


In case the President of the Republic decides to repeat the elections, the general parliamentary election is held together with the presidential election.



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