Experts draw attention to need for constitutional change

The Ankara-based think tank Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) organized a panel yesterday to address the presidential system ahead of Parliament’s General Assembly discussions on Monday. Experts began by drawing attention to the necessity of systemic change in Turkey. The Secretary General of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Abdulhamit Gül, speaking at the panel, stated that the two fundamental elements of the proposed presidential system include accountability and establishing constitutionalism via elections.Beginning the panel with his opening remarks, SETA General Coordinator Burhanettin Duran underlined that the term “presidential system” is more accepted in the minds of the public. The panel continued with AK Party Secretary General Gül’s remarks as he said, “We placed the amendments regarding the executive order to the foremost of our agenda, as it was urgently needed.” He also added that the current proposed system “aims to establish stability and eliminate the two-headed system of executive power.” Recalling that the 1961 and 1982 constitutions gave the say to the people while placing mechanisms between the people and the state, Gül said a “sovereignty field closed to the nation was established.””In 2007, Parliament even prevented the president being elected and the AK Party overcame that incident by referring to the people,” Gül added. While noting that the proposed system has two fundamental elements, including accountability and establishing constitutionalism via elections, Gül said the AK Party has proposed a system that has rules independent of individuals. Emphasizing that the AK Party does not particularly need or benefit from the proposed system as it has already been in power for 14 years, Gül stressed that the purpose of the presidential system is to give control to the people regardless of which party comes into power. He further stated that the proposed system would allow “prompt and effective decision making.” Ending his remarks by also urging the establishment of a fully civilian-based constitution, Gül added that such a constitution is necessary for complete democratization. Analogous to Gül, SETA’s politics department director Nebi Miş also drew attention to the necessity of systemic change in Turkey due to the current parliamentarian system causing setbacks.

In his remarks, Miş stated that a change in the governing system in Turkey has been discussed for 40 years and further noted that “systems are designed in accordance with each country’s needs.” He also mentioned that the AK Party-proposed presidential system “is in line with world standards.” Also speaking at the panel, Ankara bureau chief of the Star daily Mustafa Kartoğlu criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for their stance during the constitution talks. Kartoğlu said, “Those who claim that Turkey is entering darkness [due to the proposed system] have been saying this for 30 years.”

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