As the discussions on the new constitution continue, the headlining agenda in this discussion is the presidential system. The question of whether to continue with the parliamentary system or start a new era in the political mechanism with the presidential system is not only closely related with politics but the economy as well.
In this context, “The Search for a New Constitution in Turkey and Discussions on the Government System” panel, a collaboration between Atatürk University and the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), scrutinized how the change in the system would start a change in the economy as well as in the political arena. I participated with my evaluation of how the presidential system will be in the economic perspective.
In developing economies such as Turkey, we cannot talk about economics independent from politics. This is valid for not only for developing countries, but also for developed countries where economic policies and implementations are directly related to political dynamics.
The ability to implement plans in the medium and long term can only be possible with political stability.
When we look at the historical process of the Turkish economy, periods in which the governments had strong public support were at the same time periods in which economic performance in the country was strongest.
Meanwhile, the reason those who are not happy with the practices of political power try to design the government elected by the people is because executive power is open to influence. The circles outside the ballot box, which try to shape politics despite the people, try to manipulate economic parameters, and those who try to establish their own order in the economy begin to play with political dynamics.
In other words, they were acting in accordance with whichever variant they wanted to change in the dual-sided political-economic mechanism. Just as before, they attempted several times to set up the same system during the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) period. But the main distinctive difference of the AK Party period is the ongoing public support.
We are talking about support of almost 50 percent. This is despite the fact that 14 long years have passed.
Even against this strong support, there are economic practices which were interrupted several times. Only if we remember the things that were done to prevent the launch of projects such as the third bridge and third airport in Istanbul, the dilemmas of the parliamentary system will be clear.
LOCKS OF THE PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
The decision to stop the projects which we saw several times in the past, enforcement preventing investments even at the completion stage is because of the chaos of authority among the legislative, executive and judiciary trio that are supposedly independent of each other.
The point to note here is that the economic policies of the political power are of course not indisputable or irreproachable. At the same time, Turkey has no time to waste with fruitless discussions.
The way to become a high-income economy does not pass through projects whose future is uncertain and which may be stopped anytime.
The investors who cannot see their future in investments, which is the first step of the investment-recruitment-production chain, and have to review all their plans with the instant changes, will of course prefer their own country under such conditions.
In the shade of the bureaucratic and administrative processes, if the solutions for the structural problems of the economy cannot be found, unfortunately it will take more time for Turkey to become a high-income economy.
A NEW POLITICAL PARADIGM FOR THE NEW ECONOMY STORY
Before discussing what the presidential system will bring to the Turkish economy and what impact it will have, before analyzing the cost of these interruptions on the country's economy, an initial “opposition” to the system change will not provide the dynamism the Turkish economy has been looking for.
Since the 2008 global economic crisis, the Turkish economy has been growing for the last 25 quarters.
Despite many internal and external negative conditions, the structural problems in the economy, the negative conjuncture of the global economy, the chaos in nearby regions such as Syria and Iraq, the two elections held – one local and one presidential – within two years, economic growth is continuing. Even though the performance in Turkey's economic growth is positive, it is also clear that this performance is not enough.
The dynamism of economy is just as important for Turkey as continuity of the country's economic growth. That is why the window of the economy that is ignored in the presidential discussions should take its place in these discussions. Only in this way can a new economic story be written.