What does presidential system bring Turkey?

As the President Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP party is on the edge of restructuring the state apparatus, executive powers have been concentrated in the hands of the President with the new constitution
Saturday, 07 July 2018 19:13

As Turkey is moving into a new presidential system after the June 24 elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acquired some additional powers as part of this systemic transition to an executive presidency which will result in his oath of office for a new five-year term on July 9.

The amended laws of the Constitution will enter into force on the day the Erdoğan has taken his oath of office. Yet the regulations that will allow it to go into effect have not yet been made.

A new decree law [No. 698] on the basis of empowering act to comply with the new constitution has been published in the Official Gazette on July 4, 2018. In this new decree law, there is no a significant regulation except that some words in various laws such as "council of ministers" and "prime-minister’’ have been replaced by the words compatible with the new constitution. Moreover, the concept of "empowering" defined in the empowering act has not been completely used. All these developments indicate that new decree laws will be issued soon.

Kadir Sev, the Former Commissioner of Audit and columnist at soL news, wrote about the amended laws of the constitution and what the presidential government system will bring Turkey, as the opposition excitedly waits how Erdoğan and ruling AKP party will restructure the state apparatus:

The legislative prerogative of the Parliament has been restricted.

The AKP cadres insistently emphasized that the legislative prerogative of the Turkish parliament would continue while advocating constitutional amendments. Some of them even claimed that the Parliament would return its "fundamental duty" with this new constitution.

Yet, the new constitution has disqualified the Parliament of its legislative power regulating the organisational structure of the state, and this authority has been given to the president.

Article 106 of the constitution enacts that "The establishment, abolition, duties and authorities, and organisational structure of ministries along with the formation of central and provincial organisations are regulated by the presidential decrees."

This article implies that the parliament has been prohibited from the issues regarding the organisational structure of the state. Because the relevant article enacts that "[these issues] are regulated by the presidential decrees," not "may be regulated by the presidential decrees." If another organ ─ namely the Parliament ─ uses this authority, its act will deem unconstitutional.

According to Kadir Sev, the authority granted to the president with the Article 104 of the constitution does not exclude the parliament contrary to Article 106; but it paves the way for a restriction of legislative prerogative.

16th paragraph of the Article 104 regulates the rules regarding the authority of ordinance power of the president which can be used by the President at his will.

The relevant paragraph states that "The president can issue decrees regarding its executive power."

Every activity in state administrations is bound up with the executive power, and these executive powers have been concentrated in the hands of the president with the new constitution. Thus, the president can make arrangements for every issues, asserting that these issues are related to the executive power. And no one can raise an objection to his acts because the boundaries, principles and criterions of the given authority are ambiguous.

In addition to these, actions that can be taken are quite limited against the misconduct of the president. Although the parliament has the power to enact laws and invalidate the presidential decrees, it is not easy to use this potentiality.

A qualified majority is required for re-admission of the laws sent back by the president. Yet, even the qualified majority is constituted, it might be too late to work things out.

Presidential decrees give more authorities to the president compared to decree laws.

Presidential decrees are indeed statutory decrees which have legal power. These decrees provide the president with an opportunity to make arrangements including statutory decrees within a broad authority. Moreover, it is not necessary to send these arrangements to the parliament for the inspection procedures.

Supervisory power of the parliament on executive power has been abrogated.

Political responsibility has not been envisaged for the president who controls the executive power. There is no one that will account before the parliament. Only some rules on penal responsibilities for the president are provided in the constitution. Besides, the projected rules are so difficult that it is almost impossible to judge the president in case of an unlawful situation. Vice-presidents and ministers have also been put under the protection of the constitution in case a possible judicial process indicted against them.

Although it has not been used effectively until today, even the presence of this authority has frightened the AKP cadres, and the motion of censure has been abrogated.

The parliament has lost the chance to use the budget right.

Budget right means the parliament’s inspection over how the executive organ uses the revenue generation and spending authorities granted by the parliament itself. When the executive organ presents the budget to the parliament, it is liable for explaining the amount and legal basis of the expected revenues and clarifying which priorities these funds are allocated to which service items.

With the new constitution, the possibility of using the budget right has been removed, Kadir Sev says. Because the budget is not presented, but directly sent to the parliament. And those who sent the budget is not accountable for the parliament.

In this respect, the budget seems to have been prepared by bureaucrats of uncertain numbers in a mysterious castle of a count showing dictator tendencies depicted in the novel of Franz Kafka’s 'the Castle' and sent to the Parliament in order to what is necessary.

It is enough to be sen, but it does not matter whether it is approved by the Parliament or not. Even it is rejected by the Parliament, the amounts can be updated with revaluation rates and spent according to the constitution.

Sev underlines that if the Final Account Law of a political power is rejected by the parliament, that political power is deemed to be not absolved. "Yet, this is not important either; because it is impossible to find an example that has gone into a mess throughout the history of the Republic of Turkey," he continues.

Noting that the Court of Account, which carries out the inspection on behalf of the parliament, has also become dysfunctional because the budget could not be controlled, Sev concluded, "As the state becomes more deregulated, so-called 'blessings' of the presidential government system increase..."