An editorial by Sinan Ciddi points out the implications of the government’s attempt to change Turkey from a parliamentary system to one led by a powerful presidency. Any effect will be exacerbated by the Turkish tendency to follow powerful individuals, rather than parties. One implication Ciddi doesn’t mention is the Morsi effect: once a powerful individual inhabits a powerful leadership position and all the tools for change are in his hands, will he wield them — and share them — to bring peace and prosperity to the nation, or will he use the office to gain even more power and become unassailable?
Here is Ciddi’s oped. An excerpt:
…The 2013 deliberations on Turkey’s new constitution will be less focused on streamlining Turkey’s democratic governance structures, than it will be on defining who will govern Turkey and what powers they will be equipped with. Once negotiations have been completed and the final document is prepared for a parliamentary vote, followed by a public referendum, the type of presidential system which Turkey adopts will become apparent. As the constitution defines the scope of increased executive presidential competencies, it is likely that Erdoğan will not be the only contender for the newly empowered office, even though he is currently favored to be the likely winner. The presidency will be a five year post, renewable two times and the office holder directly elected by the voting population. Its framers aspire to create an office reminiscent of the grandeur and respect which the American presidency commands, and the efficiency and broad sweeping executive freedoms which the Russian model embraces. The creation of a presidency with increased executive powers will make this a much coveted position, one which Abdullah Gul may be willing to challenge Erdoğan for…
Erdogan’s formal imposition of his personal dislikes as legislative and legal bans (he has disapproved of museums, statues, plays, books, cartoons, women’s lifestyles, abortions, Caesarian sections, now TV shows) points toward a likely ‘yes’ to my question above, and also to what that period of ultimate power might look like in the hands of a man with no tolerance and no sense of humor, a man who thinks the law is nothing more than a whip shaped to his hand. Click here for an article by Lisel Hintz in Foreign Policy.