In the aftermath of the recent presidential election which granted Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan executive powers, it appears the president wasted no time to make himself into a dictator.
Speaking to Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, Mehmet Uçum, one of Erdogan’s chief advisers, Erdogan “will decide on how to run the country singlehandedly under the country’s new system of government, and any personnel who do not fit in will be immediately replaced.” He added that the new system would make it possible for issues that had been held up under the old parliamentary system to be resolved in the space of hours through Erdogan’s direct intervention.
In other words, Turkey is no longer a democracy, with no checks and balances, and Erdogan will henceforth rule with executive decree.
In a curious admission, Ucum said that the new system that would make this possible will likely raise the hackles of the opposition, however, “as it places full responsibility for the country’s administration on Erdogan’s shoulders.”
The president’s adviser outlined the workings of a system in which political boards and institutions would serve in only an advisory capacity, passing their analyses up to the president for consideration, however ultimately with no say in the decisionmaking process.
“To whom will all of these (dossiers) be sent? To the president. Who will receive the drafts prepared by political boards? The president. Why does the president need to make the decisions on his own? Because under the new system, the president is the person who holds political responsibility.”
It gets better: the advisor “explained that another advantage of amassing so much authority under the president is that “it reduces the danger of conflicts within government because it simply removes room for dissent.”
“If any kind of discord does arise, then this won’t turn into a systemic problem, but one of implementation. What does this mean? The sources of discord can be removed overnight, and replaced with people who can do the job properly,” Uçum said.
While Ucum was effusive that the system would become an “inspiration” to other countries, other observers were less enthusiastic. Duke University professor Timur Karan tweeted that such a system “assumes the president is omniscient.”
Erdogan’s top advisor on new system: “He decides by himself. Anyone out of step is fired summarily.” Assumes that president is omniscient. https://t.co/loArEulIjm
— Timur Kuran (@timurkuran) July 19, 2018
It also assumes that the market will give Erdogan free reign to plunder and embezzle government funds and assets as he has frequently been accused of doing (with the accusers usually ending up promptly in prison). However, while Erdogan now has unlimited time and funds to reincarnate some bizarre modern-day version of the Ottoman empire, the market may be less patient: already the lira has plunged to record lows while inflation is soaring and capital is fleeing the nation while the nation’s misery index recently hit an all time high of 25%.
Turkey is also tied for 5th spot with Greece in Bloomberg’s index of the world’s most miserable economies, up from 7th place in 2017.
How much longer Erdogan can preserve his executive power will depend on the economy, which means that just like in Venezuela, we expect that in the very near future, the government will simply halt the publication of any government economic data as the country sinks into 3rd world oblivion.