While suggesting that the term “prime minister” in the Constitution should be replaced with “president,” a senior Justice and Development Party (AKP) politician said on Wednesday that Turkey has already switched to a de facto presidential system, in reference to a 2007 referendum that changed the presidential election system after a serious political crisis.
AKP deputy Mustafa Elitaş said that even without drafting a new Constitution, the article on the election of the president would be changed, replacing the word “president” with “executive president.”
According to Elitaş, a debate in 2007 over the election of a president from the ruling AKP, which ended up in an anti-democratic ruling by the Constitutional Court, is the cause of the de facto system change in Turkey. In 2007, when the secular establishment opposed the election of former President Abdullah Gül due to his wife’s headscarf, the presidential election turned into a deadlock, and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for a system change.
In reference to the 2007 crisis, Elitaş said that those who are uncomfortable with the system change now are the same people who challenged the election of Gül by appealing to the Constitutional Court for help in 2007.