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“In my opinion, a semi-presidential system is the most convenient one for Turkey. In the elections, people vote for those who they want to see as its rulers. That is, they don’t reward political parties they want to punish at polls as coalition partners,” Mustafa Şentop, the deputy leader of AKP responsible for the election as well as the presidential system. Şentop is a constitutional law professor and is known as the architect of the AKP’s works on presidential system.

The debate on the presidential was relaunched after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his belief last week that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s main election promise would be the adoption of the presidential system.

Erdoğan’s statement prompted claims about a disagreement between the two leaders as the prime minister has not made any statement about the adoption of the presidential system. The issue was not discussed during this week’s AKP parliamentary group meeting either.

However, some prominent AKP officials have begun deliberations on the issue.

“The most important aspect of the presidential system is that it allows the people to elect the members of the legislative and the executive at the same time,” Şentop said. “Therefore, it brings about a powerful government with at least the support of 50 percent of the people.”

New constitution, presidential system

One of the most significant issues during the June 7 elections will be the new constitution, and the new constitution’s most important aspect will be the presidential system, Şentop said. “This discussion is not new. We have been talking about this for the last two years. We presented the options [for the presidential system] during the parliamentary panel [tasked with rewriting the constitution]. It will constitute one of the important titles of our election manifesto.”

Şentop suggested the French semi-presidential system was the most suitable for Turkey but said the powers given to the president and parliament, as well as the president’s relations with the government, could be debated anew.

“When you look at it, there are nuances that distinguish the French semi-presidential system from the existing system in Turkey. The French president always presides over cabinet meetings. Our system stipulates the same right ‘when necessary.’ The cabinet’s power to issue decrees in Turkey is not much different than the French system. Our system could be transformed into a presidential system through minor amendments,” he said.

Presidency does not bring federation

One issue Şentop wanted to emphasize is that the adoption of a presidential system would not necessarily result in a federation, as argued by many circles that the ruling party is in negotiations with the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) to create federal states in return for support of a presidential system.

“There is a misinterpreted issue: The presidential system does not necessitate federations. This is completely false. There are so many countries ruled by a presidential system with a unitary structure. There are also countries that have adopted a parliamentary system with federalism, like Germany,” he said.

Changing the administrative system to a presidential one will be obligatory in the forthcoming period so that the opposition parties will have time to make decisions as well, Şentop said.

“What we have in Turkey is not a full parliamentary system. You will realize that each and every constitutional amendment is moving Turkey toward the presidential system. The latest step allowing the people to elect the president makes this change obligatory,” he said.


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