Middle East Eye article claims that proposed constitutional change in Turkey makes it possible for Erdogan to be elected president for three five-year terms
On 11 January 2017, an article published in the Middle East Eye claimed that running for president for three terms, each lasting five years, will be possible according to the bill on constitutional change, giving Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an opportunity to rule until 2034, with his current term ending in 2019.
“Any president would be allowed three five-year terms: Erdogan's current period in office will not count as one of those, meaning he could be in power until 2034 if he wins three successive polls,” wrote the article.
However, the related article of the bill conspicuously stated that any Turkish citizen, who constitutionally qualifies for running for president, is allowed to run for president for two terms. “One presidential term consists of five years. A Turkish citizen can run for president at most for two terms,” read the bill.
The article also involved a table that listed its predictions about what the bill would change – most of which were factually incorrect. Some of these same inaccurate claims were repeated in an article in the Independent as well. “President Erdogan will become an elected dictator able to dissolve parliament, veto legislation, decide the budget, appoint ministers who do not have to be MPs along with senior officials and heads of universities,” claimed the latter article.
Below these claims are considered one by one.
· “The president must be a political party leader.”
No, the president need not be a political party leader. The bill only allows the president to keep their ties to their political party, which was formerly forbidden by law. It does not make it obligatory.
· “The president can dissolve parliament.”
No, there is no mechanism of dissolution foreseen in the bill. Instead, both the president and parliament can decide to renew the elections on condition that the president and MPs will have to run again should they wish to withhold their posts. Also, renewal of the elections means a loss of term for the president who can rule only for two terms.
· “The president can decide the country’s annual budget.”
No, the president is not entitled to decide the annual budget. It is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) which decides the budget. The president’s duty is to present a budget proposal to the TBMM which in turn can approve or reject the proposal. The president’s team should reevaluate the rejected proposal and then return it to the TBMM. In case the new budget could not be created until the deadline, the last year’s budget is used with an increase.
· “The president can veto all legislation.”
Yes, the president can veto all legislation – but this right is granted as part of a balance mechanism between the executive and the legislature (the Assembly). The TBMM makes laws and the president issues decrees. But constitutionally, laws are superior to decrees and the TBMM can cancel a presidential decree by making a new law on the same subject as the decree. That is to say that the legislature can constantly repress the executive by cancelling presidential decrees. To prevent this from happening, the president is granted the right to veto the TBMM’s legislations.
Please click here for more information on the bill.