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Presidentialism vs. Parliamentarism in Turkey

This is Policy Brief No. 01, issued by the Institute of International Affairs in Rome. The Policy Brief titled: Presidentialism vs. Parliamentarism in Turkey is authored by Ergun Özbudun.

"While Turkey is in the midst of a constitution-making process, the debate has re-sparked over the switch to a presidential or semi-presidential system. This brief cautions against this change for two reasons:

First, Turkey currently does not have a classic parliamentary model, as the 1982 Constitution endowed the presidency with substantive powers. It has been described as a “hybrid” system between parliamentarism and mipresidentialism. With the constitutional amendment of 2007, the system of government was brought one step closer to a semi-presidential system.

Second, although the proponents of a semi-presidential or presidential system invariably describe the parliamentary system as prone to crises and deadlocks, governmental instability, ineffectiveness, and immobilisme are not the necessary fate of a parliamentary government. In fact, it is a semi-presidential system, particularly when the presidency and the parliamentary majority are controlled by opposing parties, which is particularly vulnerable to crises and deadlocks. The recent debate on parliamentarism vs. presidentialism in Turkey appears to be largely artificial and inconsequential. Turkey certainly needs a new constitution to solve its many problems and to raise its democratic standards. The debate on parliamentarism vs. presidentialism is not one of these issues and it should not distract attention from more urgent questions."

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Stiftung Mercator, Instituto Affari Internationali, Istanbul Policy Center