Turkey’s former President Abdullah Gül has suggested returning to a parliamentary system, as he also voiced support for former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.
“I would prefer a fully democratic parliamentary system,” Gül told daily Karar on Feb. 18.
Turkish voters said “yes” to shifting the country’s governance system to an executive presidency with a controversial referendum on constitutional amendments on April 16, 2017.
The country shifted to the system officially on July 9, 2018, replacing a 95-year-old parliamentary system.
The system granted sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and allowed him to be both the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president at the same time.
Erdoğan’s predecessor Gül, who was among the AKP’s founders, has been critical of the presidential system.
“I said that a parliamentary system would be more appropriate for Turkey when I was the president. I often said that decreasing my authorities would be more suitable for a democratic order,” Gül said, adding that he told “significant figures” that shifting to an executive presidential system would be wrong.
“We had been ruled with a Turkish-type parliamentary system. There were systems of tutelage and shadow cabinets. They brought trouble on Turkey. That’s why I said we should not have a Turkish-type presidential system,” he added.
Saying that the weight of Turkey’s parliament have always been a subject of debate, Gül noted that parliament has never been made so insignificant.
“Turkey feels its shortcoming,” he added.
During the interview, Gül said that he supports Babacan, who was among the founders of the AKP, and the party that he will found.
“I, of course, support him and his party. I trust and think highly of Babacan’s character, education, knowledge and wording in politics,” Gül said.
Babacan resigned from the AKP last year, citing “deep” differences” and he is expected to announce the foundation of his new opposition party soon.
He was previously asked whether Gül will join the party, to which he replied by saying that Gül will not be a member of the party, but will act as an advisor.
Gül was also asked whether he will join Babacan’s party.
“Babacan answered this question very honestly and sincerely. I previously said that I won’t engage in active politics after my presidency. I’m a person trying to be consistent. That’s why I’m not included in daily politics,” Gül told Karar.
“But one cannot expect me to be a person who keeps his experience to himself when serious national matters are ongoing. Sharing my views and contributing to politics in the basic issues that I see would benefit my country is both my duty and right. Babacan informs the public when necessary and meets with me from time to time,” he added.
Praising the AKP’s foundation principles and values for being highly valid for Turkey, Gül said that he kept urging the party to return to those values.
“Turkey has experienced very extraordinary periods. A treacherous coup attempt and its trauma were experienced. The way to get Turkey out of here rapidly is to establish a democratic order similar to those in the countries with developed democracies and apply principles of law and human rights,” he said.
Gül was also asked what advice he gave to Babacan.
“What I would tell everyone, including the current government, is that Turkey needs to enter a path of freedoms. The path that focuses on security only would compel you to adopt precautions after precautions,” Gül said.
“Justice and the law are at the forefront. It can easily be fixed, but willpower is needed here. The application of human rights standards must be increased. You can rapidly change the reality and image of Turkey,” he also said, while pointing to the cases that journalists, non-governmental organizations, media outlets and politicians are being tried.
“Even the Constitutional Court finds these wrong. The burden on Turkey would be lifted if they are corrected. I believe that a positive mood would suddenly be brought to Turkey if the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court are taken into account,” Gül said.