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Monday, 9 July 2007

Closure

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told this morning's Akşam that he wanted Turkey's next president to be elected by parliament from a list of compromise candidates. He said he would visit other political party leaders with the list if necessary, and added: "They (critics) told me I should have previously come forward with multiple candidates, not just the one. We can do that. We will seek compromise over a list of candidates that the constitution finds appropriate."

His words come after similar - but separate - words from main opposition leader Deniz Baykal. Mr Erdoğan was quick to say that while the 11th president, successor to the current incumbent, would be elected by parliament, the 12th president will "definitely" be elected by the people. Mr Baykal has made no such commitment.

The prime minister also said the president's powers would be restricted: "The president's powers will be narrowed, like in Austria and Finland. Prime Ministers are the ones who answer to the people, but it is they who are obstructed on every path. A strengthened prime ministry system is on the way."

As an electoral pledge, we will have to make do with this for now. Turkey is in need of major institutional change, and the leader of the party most likely to win the election has promised to deliver it. It is time, finally, to put the presidential election to one side. It is time to concentrate instead on who should lead Turkey into the next decade.

4 comments:

Nihat said...

It's not over until it's over. This closure may come to pass if Erdogan stands his ground and other non-AKP players go along with him after the elections. That is, depending on the post-election tableau. I understand that Baykal isn't committing himself to this scenario, saying "let's see the election results," which doesn't make sense to me anywhichway. Also, I read, in today's or yesterday's Milliyet, Arinc speculating: "a constitutional referendum (after July 22) and presidential election by the people in October is technically possible; but, of course, if Pres. Sezer says he is leaving office right away after July 22, then the parliament may have to elect the president because of constitutionally-mandated schedule of things." (All quotes are my paraphrasings.) To me, Erdogan's (and James's) way of carrying this in low gear sounds like the best option, or the only option that bears some hope of diffusing the air of partisan polarization around this issue.

super hero said...

one might argue that mr. erdogan should have done this in the firts case. that would really be a great tension remover indeed, however what is done is done and i would like to see a positive politics in my country for a change and appreciate what mr. erdogan is trying to do. of course, i am not convinced yet that mr. erdogan has quit his aggressive manners and looking for real consensus, but thinking positive does not harm.

istanbultory said...

In a general sense, this blog is beginning to read like a constant hymn of praise for AK Party and Recep T Erdogan.
Some counter-balance is required I fear.
First, the AKP’s consolidation of parliamentary control in 2002 reflected not the Turkish public’s endorsement for the AKP’s philosophy, but rather a general contempt for the inability of "establishment parties" to root out corruption. This should never be forgotten.
Second, since taking office in 2002, Erdogan has taken steps to bolster religious schools and, for example, AKP-appointed district superintendents have been busy demoting female teachers who come to school in trousers,etc. Tayyip tried to criminalize adultery before being forced to back down under intense EU pressure. Some party-run municipalities have tried to ban alcohol consumption. They were forced to relent. Municipal police in Samsun warned couples against kissing in public on the orders of the local AK Party mayor. The government has even inserted religious references in school text books — such as claims that washing before Islamic prayers would increase the number of red blood cells.I could go on and on....Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, head of the Turkish Army, has rightly referred to a rising threat of fundamentalism on at least six occasions since he took up his position in late August 2006.
Not all of us are fooled by Tayyip...readers outside of Turkey in particular, don't believe the hype. Look into the reality of modern Turkey with greater care.
For more about Turkey:
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/4504

James said...

Call the blog a constant praise of the AK party if you will, IT, but that counter balance of which you speak is provided wonderfully by you and those like you, and I welcome it. May it never stop.

Had I managed to get my response to you before yesterday's election, I would have agreed with your first point entirely. To an extent I still do, though it is difficult to argue the AK party doesn't enjoy a wider support from across the political spectrum than any other Turkish party today.

Your second point again speaks the truth, although I would question whether it was Mr Erdoğan himself who ordered, say, the prohibition of public kissing in Samsun. A lot of these incidents are were local events ordered by local administrations, as you say. I'm not saying they're the right measures, but I'm not convinced they represent any kind of covert AK policy.

The notable exception to all this is, of course, that abortive attempt to ban adultery, which is purely ridiculous.

Regarding schools, it is true that there have been some strange additions to textbooks, but you've got to remember that it was the (now previous) AK government that made religious lessons in schools optional in the first place.

And about General Büyükanıt's "rightful" interventions, I'm afraid I simply don't agree they were right. The army should not be a force in politics. It is the government's response to the army's so-called e-coup that was absolutely right: "Turkey's military takes orders from the government, not vice-versa".

Please do keep reading, IT. You keep me on my toes.