Turkey 's Hasty Constitutional Amendment Devoid of Rational Basis: From a Political Crisis to a Governmental System Change

  •  Dr. Peri Uran    




Governmental systems are one of the significant topics of constitutional law literature and comprehensive studies have been carried out on this issue. The answer to the question whether a parliamentary system, a presidential system or a mixed system is the most suitable system of government can change according to the political preferences of the countries. Since countries search for the best system of government, debate about “governmental system change” keep its actuality. Discussions about governmental system change are also not new in Turkey. Parliamentarism has been one of the defining characteristics of the Turkish constitutional system since 1876 Ottoman Constitution; however, during the application of the Constitution of 1982 first ex-president Turgut Özal, then ex-president Süleyman Demirel maintained that the governmental system in Turkey needed to be changed from parliamentary system to semi-presidential or presidential system, because Turkey’s growing and pressing problems require an “effective executive” which would take necessary decisions quickly and apply them effectively and the president in such systems fits this requirement. Governmental system change issue also came into question during the The Justice and Development Party Government’s term of office. Both the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an himself and the other senior party members occasionally mentioned that semi-presidential system would be the best governmental system for Turkey

The crucial constitutional amendment which was accepted through a nationwide referendum on 21 October 2007, overshadowed the discussions about governmental systems in Turkey for awhile. The amendment in question changed the Turkish Governmental System from parliamentary system to parliamentary with “president” system by introducing the principle of “popular election of the president”. Moreover, the new system is being considered as a step to pass through a semi-presidential or a presidential system in Turkey. Some academicians think that the adoption of the principle of popular election of the president was not the consequence of the discussions about a transition from the parliamentary system to a presidential or a semi-presidential system among political and academic circles. In fact, it was a reaction to a political crisis related to the election of the President by Turkish Parliament, therefore it is difficult to accept this amendment as a well designed constitutional engineering scheme and the new governmental system could create serious problems in the future.

In this article, the political crisis as the main reason of the last constitutional amendment in Turkey which introduced the principle of popular election of the president by parliament will be summarized and the prospective problems that would arise from the new governmental system will be discussed. The debates of whether the presidential or semi-presidential system is the most suitable option for Turkey or not will also be reviewed.

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