Erdogan's victory heralds strong presidency for Turkey

By Hatice Kesgin and Don Melvin, Sunday, August 10, 2014

'We are not electing a flower pot,' Erdogan says as he promises stronger, more activist presidency.

'We are not electing a flower pot,' Erdogan says as he promises stronger, more activist presidency.

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's outright victory in Sunday's presidential election has given him the chance he sought to act as a “performer, active and hard-working" chief executive.

“With this percentage of the vote, Erdogan can go further toward realizing the new role for the Turkısh president which he spoke about in his rallies,” Hatem Ete, the coordinator of political research at SETA Foundation, a Turkish think tank, said late Sunday.

During his campaign, in which he held 30 rallies in major cities, Erdogan spoke of a presidency that would be more powerful and active than in the past.

“I will be an active president if elected,” he said during his vision meeting -- a statement of his platform -- which was held on July 11.

“Today’s political dynamics are completely different than the past," Erdogan said, according to the ruling AK Party's official website. "Today’s world is a world of expansion, equality and pluralism. New Turkey will continue to proceed on this path and grow even stronger. New Turkey will reassume its role as the center of civilizations with its self-confident, independent, responsible and virtuous people embracing each other.”

Until now, Turkish presidents have performed largely ceremonial functions, but Erdogan promised that he would be a stronger, more active and harder-working president.

“From now on, the AK Party, the Turkish government and the presidency will act in unison” Ete said. “An organic link will be seen between the AK Party and the Turkish presidency”.

Erdogan described what he called "New Turkey" during his vision speech, saying “New Turkey relies on three fundamental principles: Democratic politics, open society and rule of law. Our state philosophy is based on the following principle: Empower the people to empower the state.”

Fuat Keyman, a Turkish political scientist, said Erdogan will enhance the powers of the presidency even further than in the past.

“The outgoing president, Abdullah Gul, was also a very active one, making many international visits, commenting on the hot topics during his term, but Erdogan wants to move it forward," said Keyman. "A more active role, as Erdogan contemplates, requires the president to have more authority in economics, foreign policy and administration.” 

Keyman said in advance of the election that an outright victory Sunday would be important to Erdogan. If he avoided a run-off, Keyman predicted, Erdogan would push for early parliamentary elections -- and then constitutional change to the parliamentary system. 

However, Ete said he believed Erdogan would not push to change Turkey's 1980 Constitution, which does not allow a semi-presidential or presidential system.

“Erdogan wants harmony between the Turkish President and presidency, and a constitutional amendment and early election are not his table right now,” Ete said.

Either way, Erdogan promises to be an activist president.

"If I'm elected, I will not be an impartial president," he said during the campaign. "There are two sides: the state and the nation. I will be on the side of the nation."

“We are not electing a flower pot for the display window of the state but a president who will administer the state, be a commander-in-chief and enable a smooth functioning of the state institutions," he said.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency