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December 20, 2012, Thursday

Threat to democracy

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked a debate on Monday when he complained that the principle of the separation of powers prevents the government from working properly.

 He said the separation of powers holds the government back in its efforts to introduce better services to the country.

Hürriyet’s Taha Akyol says Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies are arguing for the presidential system, claiming that separation of powers in this system is far stronger. This may be so in theory, yet in practice, Akyol says, the AK Party has submitted a proposal to the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission to switch to a presidential system and according to the system the AK Party has proposed, the president will have powers which are too extensive. And again in the proposal, the principles of balance, separation of powers and control over the government are stretched in favor of the president. This has worried people that the government will become more authoritarian. If Erdoğan indeed intends this, then he should realize that the people won’t allow Turkey to be ruled by an illiberal democracy and that it is determined to achieve liberal democracy. And if Erdoğan does not have any intentions towards authoritarianism, then it is his responsibility to allay people’s fears.

Hasan Cemal from the Milliyet daily says the presidential system the AK Party recently proposed is quite problematic when it comes to the separation of powers. Cemal says no country should copy another country’s system while writing a new constitution. Every system should differ in details based on the specific features of the country. Therefore, copying the presidential system and the principle of the separation of powers from the US is already problematic, the columnist notes.

On the other hand, Sabah’s Hasan Celal Güzel says Erdoğan has been misunderstood in his complaint. It is not that he is against the principle of the separation of powers. Rather, he is complaining about the violation of this principle. However, those who seek any opportunity to attack Erdoğan view his complaint as if he is against democracy and wants to declare an authoritarian regime. These criticisms are nothing but political exploitation, Güzel says.

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