World Bulletin/News Desk
A deputy to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on Monday for Turkey to move to a presidential form of government, heralding widely expected proposals for constitutional changes that would allow Erdogan to become even more powerful as president.
Since his AK Party swept to power in 2001, Erdogan has dominated the political landscape, delivering rapid economic growth, trouncing the opposition in three elections, while passing reforms to bring a staunchly secular military to heel.
Under party rules, however, Erdogan cannot have another term as prime minister, and before the last election it became an open secret in the media that he would like to switch to the presidency before his term ends in 2015.
Since last year's election, the potential switch to a presidential form of government had lain dormant, but at a parliamentary symposium on Monday, just a week after parliament began working on a new constitution, Bekir Bozdag, one of Erdogan's four deputy prime ministers, put the issue squarely on the agenda.
"The system which enables the most effect supervision is the presidential system," Bozdag said in a speech criticising Turkey's current parliamentary system.
"There must be discussion of the presidential system in which the legislative and executive are in a real sense independent of one another," Bozdag said.
"If Turkish parliament decides.."
Erdogan appeared to give support to Bozdag's comments when asked about them at a news conference in Slovenia.
Erdogan on Monday said that the writing process for Turkey's new constitution began and that a presidential system in Turkey maybe debated during this process.
Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with his Slovenian counterpart Janez Jansa in Ljubljana, Erdogan said that presidency system could be discussed within the scope of preparation process for a new constitution.
We will have nothing to say if the Turkish parliament decides on a certain system after debates, Erdogan stressed.
A sun of reality gets borne after the clash and debate of ideas, Erdogan underlined.
"This could be a presidential system, it could be a semi-presidential system. These can all be discussed," Erdogan said.
"Should be discussed"
Turkey's deputy prime minister also expressed thought on Tuesday that Turkey should discuss presidential system.
Bulent Arinc said Turkey should and could not only discuss presidential system but also semi-presidential system like in France.
"There can be presidential, semi-presidential and parliamentary democratic system like in our country in democratic regimes," Arinc told a televised interview.
Arinc said some constitutions might have proposed different systems to democratically rule the countries, and therefore, Turkey should give an opportunity to circles that were saying that one of the systems could be better.
"We should discuss this issue within the framework of a better administration and government and on constitutional basis," Arinc said.
Arinc said Turkey could not go on with the constitution made by some people who were being tried of staging the September 12 (1980) military intervention.
"A Constitutional Compromise Committee has been set up in the parliament with participation of equal number of representatives from each party, and they have worked positively so far," Arinc said.
Arinc said they would discuss proposals and views and start writing the constitution, adding that they could also discuss presidential system in the new constitution process if they agreed.
At the opening of parliament last October, President Abdullah Gul urged lawmakers to search for consensus on a new liberal constitution so it would be representative.
Erdogan's AK Party won a third consecutive term in June last year and had set a target of drafting a new constitution within the first half of this year.
Party rules prevent Erdogan from serving as prime minister for more than three terms, but there has long been speculation that he intended to switch to an empowered presidency in order to extend his rule.
Erdogan, 58, was dogged by rumours that he was suffering from cancer after undergoing surgery late last year, but he has since resumed overseas trips and has appeared fit and well.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Mayıs 2012, 11:37