Despite its deeply rooted past of constitution and tradition of democracy,
Turkey has not been able to achieve the same level as that of the contemporary
democracies and to save itself from political and economic crises.
As state coups and anti-democratic interventions against the elected
administrations were especially considered as the main cause of the crises,
they brought along discussions about altering the political system of the
country. The quite recent anti-democratic and bloody attempt of the coup
in our country has opened the discussion of “the presidential system” once
One of the methods improved and suggested against the political and
economic crises and anti-democratic interventions against the system and
administration is “presidency”. The reasons behind this suggestions has
been considered to be inability to prevent state coups, failing to form strong
governments, general failure of coalition governments, parliament’s limited
capacity to supervise governments, ruling parties’ using legislation power
in its own favor so as to weaken the principle of the separation of powers,
inability to run the parties’ inner mechanisms for self-control, super powers
enjoyed by the Head of the Republic, and finally the duality appeared in
the administration of the country after the election of the Head of the
Factors such as Turkey’s multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian structure of
Turkey; observation of social and cultural differences in many areas; and
inability to achieve a well-working pluralistic democratic culture, cause
certain doubts about the future of the presidential system. There are doubts
if presidential model that succeeds in holding together different races
in the USA will also work successfully in Turkey. The fact that the American
presidential model sometimes turns into autocratic dictatorship in
other countries causes worries for its exercise in Turkey which lacks a wellfunctioning
The discussion of presidency calls to mind another century-long issue of
“autonomy and federation” which is closely related to the Kurdish question.
The political, social, cultural and economic problematic areas which are
pointed out by these concepts that can be classified under the umbrella of
“decentralization” need to be reconsidered from today’s perspective.
Bediüzzaman’s references to these matters are of course very important.
At the start of the twentieth century he evaluates Prince Sabahaddin’s ideas
of “individual enterprise and decentralization” in an article entitled “An
answer to the misunderstood but beautiful idea of Prince Sabahaddin” and
emphasized the idea of “union” and that “decentralization” might cause breakaways
from the centre of the state due to ethnic and sectarian differences
and the oppressive administration and conflicts between political parties of
the day. He also claimed that the possible grants of “autonomy” could turn
into demands for independence and that in the end would brought about
disintegration in the form of “small separate states”.
The messages expressed by century-long worries of Bediuzzaman for
today, when many separations taking place in a very bloody way in the
Muslim world, seem to be very useful to reconsider while discussing “autonomy”
which is expected to come to the fore during presidential discussions.
Bediuzzaman views the close relationship between Turks and Kurds
like that of “flesh and nail” and denounces new structures built-upon ethnic
differences by stressing concepts such as “love, union, Islamic nationhood”.
When in those days Sherif Pasha signed with the Armenian Nubar Pasha
in Paris an agreement aimed at the construction of Kurdish and Armenian
states, Bediuzzaman’s claim that the Kurdish nation is represented by the
Ottoman Assembly of Representatives and that solution must be sought
within a parliament devoid of external influence are ideas still worth guiding
us today.
Hence we decided to study in the next issue of our journal “presidency
and decentralization” and consider the issue under the light of the following
concepts and questions:
“Democracy, parliament democracy, politics, constitution, presidency,
semi-presidency, separation of powers, legislation, execution, jurisdiction,
election, assembly, coup d’états, political and economic crises, decentralization,
individual enterprise, Kurdish problem, Unitarian state, federal state,
autonomy, nationalism, religion, multi-culturalism, plurality, federation,
constitutionalism, freedom, justice, statuesque, authoritarianism, dictatorship,
union, love, national zealotry, Medresetuzzehra”
What is the place and definition of presidential system in the political
history? Where to locate the discussions about presidency in the history
of Turkish politics? What will be this system’s contributions to democratization?
What are the fundamental reasons for Turkey’s present failure in
democratization? How can presidential system be applied in our country,
where we have very different cultures, ideologies, and ethnic structures?
How should we consider “Unitarian state and federal state” discussions?
What will be the possible consequences of applying the presidential system
in Turkey when we do not have enough democracy and reconciliation culture
as that in the USA? What countries are run successfully with presidential
system? Is autonomy a necessary part of the presidential system as often
appeared in the public opinion or is it thought as a part of the presidential
system specific to Turkey? What does Bediuzzaman mean by “a beautiful
idea” in his evaluation “the misunderstood but beautiful idea of Prince Sabahaddin”
mentioned in a debate on decentralization? If it is decentralization
then what are the conditions of its application? What are the views
of Bediuzzaman in general on these questions as a person living through
different political systems under a sultan, Constitution and the Republic?
We invite our readers to enjoy our journal as we hope to meet them in
the next issue.