Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very persistent lately on two issues: that Turkey should have a “presidential system,” and that Turkey’s central bank should lower the interest rate of Turkish currency. As the elected leader of the nation, Erdogan may certainly advocate such opinions, but his attempts to redefine the very basic facts of politics and economics 101 are a bit over the top.
Let’s begin with the first issue: the presidential system. Erdogan and his top advisers began promoting this idea about two years ago, when it became apparent that Erdogan would continue his career as president after serving three terms as prime minister. The problem was that under Turkey's existing parliamentary system, the president is nonpartisan and largely symbolic, whereas the prime minister holds the real executive power. This has not stopped Erdogan from becoming “a different president,” as he said repeatedly during his electoral campaign last summer. He wants to turn his de facto dominance over the state — and various aspects of society as well, as I explained here — into a de jure reality. This means discarding Turkey’s 140-year-old parliamentary tradition in favor of a "presidential system," in which the elected president will face very few, if any, checks and balances.