The AK Party’s arguments for a presidential system in Turkey

The governing Justice and Development Party, the AK Party, is the initiator of the push for a change to the presidential system.

Photo by: AK Party website
Photo by: AK Party website

Updated Apr 16, 2017

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) introduced the 18 proposed changes to the constitution, with the support of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Together they secured the minimum 330 parliamentary votes required to launch a public referendum.

The initiator of the new governance system, AK Party, states coalition governments as a weakness of the present system.

The AK Party believes that the presidential system would take the country further.

Here are the AK Party's reasons for the new system:

• A strong executive branch is necessary for making decisions more quickly and for taking the necessary steps for the country’s economic and democratic development.

• A presidential system will clear up the confusion over the jurisdiction for which the president and the prime minister are responsible in the parliamentary system.

• The presidential system does not necessarily mean a federal system.

• The presidential system does not pave the way for less democracy there are plenty of democratic presidential systems.

• The presidential system prevents the forming of coalitions which have damaged Turkey in terms of stability and economy in the past.

• The presidential system has been advocated by many of Turkey’s previous leaders, such as Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel.

• The proposed presidential system is more in line with Turkish political culture compared to the parliamentary system.

• The stability following the presidential system will lay the grounds for a stronger economy.

• There is a precedent for a presidential system in Turkey. Until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s death, a de facto presidential system was in place. The president had also held the leadership of a political party. This principle was repealed (or abolished) after 1960 coup.

• The presidential system will create a strong barrier against coups.

• The system in Turkey is already non-parliamentary. The jurisdiction of the president is extraordinarily large. In the new system, more responsibility and accountability will be attached.

• The opponents of the presidential system oppose it because they do not think they can win the presidency. They believe only the AK Party appeals to a large sector of the public and can win the seat.

• The presidential system is necessary to solve the deep-rooted problems of the country more quickly.

• The principle of separation of powers will remain intact in the presidential system. Hence, the parliament will be a strong and independent power in the political system.

• Turkish political life has experienced many severe government crises. The presidential system will put an end to these by providing a sounder political framework for the formation of new governments.

• The presidential system promotes consensus among the political parties and in the country itself. In the parliamentary system, even the small parties can expect to be a part of the executive branch. Thus, they tend to separate themselves from others and hold on to their differences. This institutionalises the conflict and fault lines in the society. However, in the presidential system, political parties have to win the majority of the vote. Thus, they are more inclusive.

• The amendment package states the president can be elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. Therefore, the system makes way for the democratic transition of power.

• The parliamentary system has allowed for military and bureaucratic paternalism due to the lack of strong governments.

• The presidential system will strengthen the national security of Turkey.

• The government’s vote of confidence will be given directly by the people.

• The parliamentary system produces coalitions that have had negative implications for both justices in representation and stability in administration, which have been inversely correlated. The country had to give up either the stability by allowing coalitions to rule the country, or the just representation by increasing the election threshold.