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December 21, 2012, Friday

Blunder or deliberate?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan complained on Monday that the principle of the separation of powers prevents the government from working properly, which then caused debate among columnists as well as politicians.

While some criticize Erdoğan, claiming he is against this significant principle of a democracy, others argue that the prime minister had merely pointed out that we need to rebalance these powers in order to make them more effective.

Melih Altınok of the Taraf daily wrote that before saying anything, we should acknowledge that the principle of the separation of powers is an indispensible element of modern democratic regimes. He believes that it is a good thing Erdoğan started this debate because the principle of the separation of powers is an important aspect of democracy that should be discussed effectively.

According to Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk, ministers and especially prime ministers must be careful with their remarks. They need to speak clearly and calculate the literal and figurative meanings of the words they are going to use, because even if they are “misunderstood,” what people will remember in the end is not that the minister was misunderstood but that the minister actually uttered those remarks that caused them to be misunderstood. We have seen a lot of examples of this lately in Erdoğan’s remarks. He frequently delivers statements that can be regarded as blunders and it then is left mostly to the ministers to correct these blunders. We are currently witnessing another of these as another minister pops up every day to offer another explanation for Erdoğan’s remark on the separation of powers. One says Erdoğan expressed a desire for the improvement of our political system and nothing more, while another chastises those criticizing the prime minister as against the separation principle. However, Erdoğan’s remark remains controversial and he is the one responsible for this, Göktürk says.

Another columnist for Bugün, Ahmet Taşgetiren, says we should leave aside the discussions about what Erdoğan actually meant and accept the fact that the principle of separation is not being properly applied in our country. This principle divides the state into executive, legislative and judicial branches, which requires balance of these branches so that none of them have more power than the others. And yet, Taşgetiren says, while the activities of the other two branches are monitored, the judiciary is not monitored well enough. Therefore, there is indeed unfairness in this principle in our country, Taşgetiren admits.

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