An article written by Howard Eissenstat and published on the Hill includes factual mistakes regarding the proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution
An article published on the website of the Hill on 12 April 2017 incorrectly states that the proposed presidential system in Turkey would not have "meaningful checks and balances to the president's power". However, the clauses in the proposed amendment clearly show how the checks and balances will work.
1. ARTICLE 105: The President's Criminal Liability
In the current system that was established after the 1980 coup, the president can be impeached only for treason. But a crime first and foremost needs to be defined by law in order for someone to be judged on account of committing it while treason was not even cited as a crime in the Turkish Penal Code. As a result, it is technically impossible to impeach the president in the current system.
The proposed amendments, however, expand the scope of the criminal responsibility of the president considerably, replacing the phrase 'high treason' with 'a crime'. According to the bill, it will be possible to impeach the president for any crime defined in the Turkish Penal Code, following the steps of the impeachment process. Article 105 explains how this mechanism, similar to that in the US, will work.
2. ARTICLE 116: Bilateral Renewal of the Elections of the Grand National Assembly and the Presidency
In the current system the president can dissolve the parliament as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did after the June 7 elections in 2015. But the proposed system introduces bilateral renewal of both the presidential and the parliamentary elections. If the president renews the parliamentary elections, the presidential elections will have to be held again as well, resulting in a loss of term for the president. The president who decides to renew the elections in his second term will lose that term and would not run for president again.
3. ARTICLE 119: Parliament's functional superiority over the executive
Presidential decrees will always be inferior to the parliament's legislation in terms of legal hierarchy. This also means that the executive will be prevented from interfering with the parliament. Article 119 says:
“The President can issue decrees on subjects concerning the executive. The fundamental rights, personal rights and duties in the first and second divisions, and the political rights and duties in the fourth division of the second section of the Constitution cannot be regulated by Presidential decrees. The President cannot issue decrees on issues that the Constitution says will be specifically regulated in code. Issues which are conspicuously regulated by code are exempt from Presidential decrees. When a code and a Presidential decree have different prescriptions, that of the code applies. A Presidential decree is annulled when the parliament issues a code on the same subject as the decree.”
The president will be able to issue decrees in only six topics that concern solely the executive as opposed to 80 topics that the constitution says will be specifically regulated by codes – another aspect that further serves the separation of powers.
Any official within the executive, including the president, will be prohibited from presenting legislative proposals to the parliament, contributing to its independence.
Fact Checking Turkey accumulates false claims about the proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution. To see them, please click here.