A few days to the June 24 Elections, Ankara lobbies opt for the scenario that even though Erdoğan wins the presidential race the Justice and Development Party (AKP) loses its majority in the parliament. What does this mean for the country?

Hilal Köylü

(For Turkish / Türkçe için: http://halagazeteciyiz.net/2018/06/14/secim-sonuclari-senaryolari-1-erdogan-kazanir-ak-parti-kaybederse/ )

There are only a few days left before the June 24 elections. Ankara lobbies are speaking of scenarios and analysis regarding the election results. One scenario where Erdoğan wins the presidential race while JD Party looses its parliamentary majority, comes forward. What does it mean for the country?

In this analysis we will give an answer to the first part of the question. And the answer lies in the constitutional amendment that had been brought to referendum by AKP in April 16, 2017 and was accepted in spite of the fact that the half of the voters has rejected the package. Because Erdoğan being elected as the president on the 24th of June the “the Presidential Government System” proposed by the amendment will come into force. This will be true even if Erdoğan is not elected, however since all the other candidates and the opposition parties are against this system, they promised a reversal back to parliamentary system and a restoration period if they are elected.

WEAK PARLIAMENT

The strongest argument of the opposition in taking stand against the constitutional amendment accepted in April 16 was that the parliament would be utterly powerless. It was not a surprise that Erdoğan turned this argument inside out and adopted the “Strong parliament, strong government, strong Turkey” motto for his June election campaign.

Let’s have a look at the constitutional amendment that will come into force in case Erdoğan is elected for president:

THE EXECUTIVE POWER WILL BE IN THE HANDS OF ONE PERSON

  • The amendment stipulates that the parliamentary and presidential elections to be held on the same day. The elections were scheduled to be held on November 3rd, 2019. AKP and MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) alliance rescheduled it to as early as June 24, 2018. According to the amendment the president, in case she/he is also the party leader, can also determine the PM candidates. As in the case Erdoğan chooses the JD Party’s candidates. Constitutional law experts point out that this practice is in conflict with the principle of “separation of powers.”

  • After June 24 the parliamentary elections will be held for every 5 years instead of 4, which was before. This practice is seen as ‘the thinning of the political control exercised by the voters.’

  • After June 24 the parliament’s authority to propose budgetary bills of law will be handed to the president. The president will be free to use the previous year’s budget in case the parliament does not approve her/his proposal.

PRESIDENT’S POWERS

  • April 16 constitutional amendment stipulates serious alterations regarding the executive branch. After June 24 the prime minister and the cabinet will be history. All the powers they had will be transferred to the president. President empowered by these transferred powers as well as new ones will be able to run the executive branch singlehandedly. On the other hand, president’s legislative power will also be unprecedentedly extensive.

  • It will no longer be necessary to issue a parliamentary empowering act for presidential decrees and during periods of normalcy these decrees will not be put to parliamentary vote. It will be possible for the president to issue decrees in every area regarding governmental execution.

  • In case the parliament legislates on an issue that has been covered by a presidential decree, the decree will be void.

  • In case the president declines a legislation and sends it back to the parliament, for it to be enacted 301 PM should back the legislation without any change. According to some legal experts this amounts to making it still harder for the parliament to legislate on areas that has been previously covered by presidential decrees.

POWER TO RENEW THE ELECTIONS

  • Constitutional amendment has also given president the power to renew the parliamentary elections on the condition that the presidential election is also to be renewed. Some experts on the constitutional law criticizes this regulation as being technically the “power to dissolve the parliament.” Parliament also holds the power to renew the two elections. But it can do so by at least 360 votes. This regulation raises the question whether Erdoğan, in case winning the presidential race but his party losing the majority, would renew the elections. If Erdoğan takes this road, he also has to renew the presidential elections. However, at the JDP’s backstage, serious calculations are being made regarding how the voters would respond to that strategy.

  • The president will have the power to appoint the vice presidents as well as the ministers. There will be no check on these assignments. Appointments will not be necessarily among the PMs. Experts point out that the non-parliamentary appointments may mean that those that are not elected will have executive powers and parliamentary appointments will give president some power over legislative branch.

  • President will also have the power to appoint and remove high-level public administrators. Limits to this power have not yet been specified but the principles and procedures may also be determined by presidential decrees. It is argued that this regulation puts the president in the position of both “the legislator” and “the enforcer.”

DECLARATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY (SOE)

  • The president will be able to declare SOE and issue decree in every area involving the SOE. These decrees draw fire under the argument that, different than the ones under the state of normalcy these “could restrain the rights and responsibilities or completely abolish the exercise of these rights.” These decrees are subject to parliamentary vote.

  • Although the term of office is limited to two (5+5), in case the parliament decides to renew the lections during the second term, the president will be able to enter the elections for a third term.

  • The president takes over the powers of the prime minister and the cabinet however is not subject to the check procedures that they were. The amendment removes the parliaments authority to table a motion of censure or an oral question. The written questions can only be submitted to the vice presidents or the ministers. This regulation is being criticized on the grounds that it will “restrain parliament’s political check on the executive branch.”

  • Could the president be held to stand trial? An inquiry into impeachment is possible. However, it is even harder. It takes 301 PM votes for proposing an inquiry, 360 for opening an inquiry and 400 to send the case to the High Court as the result of the inquiry.