Mehmet Uçum, a top aide of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, described a new executive presidential system in Turkey as “a one-man government in political terms” that paves way for efficient execution by “collective and collaborative teamwork.”
“Managing the government like a joint-stock company when needed was a metaphor that was adopted in terms of performance and efficiency. It produces service in the private sector, and the government produces service in execution,” Uçum said in an interview with the pro-government Hürriyet daily on Tuesday.
Uçum also said President Erdoğan would decide how to run the country singlehandedly and that any personnel who do not fit in will immediately be replaced. He added that the new system would make it possible for issues that had been held up under the old parliamentary system to be resolved in the space of hours through Erdoğan’s direct intervention.
The system that will make this possible will likely raise the hackles of the opposition, however, as it places full responsibility for the country’s administration on Erdoğan’s shoulders, according to Uçum.
Uçum outlined the workings of a system in which political boards and institutions would serve in only an advisory capacity, passing their analyses to the president for consideration. “To whom will all of these [dossiers] be sent? To the president. Who will receive the drafts prepared by political boards? The president. Why does the president need to make the decisions on his own? Because under the new system, the president is the person who has political responsibility,” said Uçum.
Another advantage of amassing so much authority under the president is that it reduces the danger of conflicts within government because it simply removes room for dissent, said Uçum. “If any kind of discord does arise, then this won’t turn into a systemic problem, but one of implementation. What does this mean? The sources of discord can be removed overnight and replaced with people who can do the job properly,” Uçum said.
While Uçum insisted the system would become an “inspiration” to other countries, other observers were less enthusiastic. Duke University professor Timur Kuran tweeted that such a system “assumes the president is omniscient.”
Turkey has officially shifted its system of governance from a parliamentary to a presidential system on the terms of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after constitutional amendments that were approved in an April 2017 referendum entered into force with Erdoğan’s inauguration on July 9.
Following the inauguration, Erdoğan issued his first presidential decree. He reduced 64 boards to nine while building four presidential offices, which work directly under his command. More than 100 directorates as well as more than 30 related institutions were abolished, while the number of ministries was decreased to 16 from 21.
“Our new government model is a one-man government in political terms, but technically the government is a team,” said Uçum claimed. “If there is no collaborative mechanism, the probability of the political will’s capacity to make mistakes will rise. These mistakes can be transformed into legal mistakes. For this reason, the political will, which has responsibility for the people, will have to base their work on teamwork and strengthen inspection mechanisms so as not to make any political or legal mistakes,” he said.