-Have preparations for the new system been completed?
The new administrative system introduced under the 16 April referendum is now legally coming into force. Those who have been exposed to, victims of and aware of the dangers of this style of administration will adapt easily, because a rich experience has been accumulated over the past few years of parliament being effectively sidelined, the party-affiliated single-man regime and state of emergency lawlessness.
It appears that its implementers will see through experience the problems inherent in installing the “new system” that has been in de facto implementation for some time. Those who know very well where they want to get to appear be to be less well geared up when it comes to what they need to do to this end. This is a bit harder under conditions of a power-centralising coalition that creates no fresh problems. For the time being, they are trying to make the ending of state of emergency decrees with the force of law appear to be a softening-up step.
-Does the coalition have importance in the new system?
The ruling party, which was incapable of availing itself of the recent period to issue harmonisation laws, was also unable to make much functional use of its decree with the force of law powers prior to the election. Decree with the force of law powers were used to purge certain statutory texts of references to a responsible minister and to sack another eighteen thousand people. With mention of gigantic systematic change and an approach to administration in which everything would be different, there is a striking absence of high-level preparation when it comes to either staff or legislation.
Erdoğan, who appears to have left the regime to its own devices, will need plenty of statutory regulations to enable him to smoothly implement the new system. A portion of these can be done through decrees, but they will all inevitably require approval in parliament and some will have to be given statutory form. Economic management and security measures that rival the state of emergency, in particular, are feasible given wide-ranging statutory regulations. So, the coalition is important.
-Has parliament’s political function entirely ended?
We will very soon start to see the concrete effects of the way parliament is rendered ineffective in the new system. But, in the short term, parliament’s importance as a political showground will continue for a while longer. The only stage available to all politicians apart from Erdoğan is parliament. Due both to ingrained inclinations and the executive having been purged of politicians to an important extent, parliament will continue to be politics’ shop window and monitoring screen.
The ruling coalition is trying to confine politics to electoral contests and, in the intervening periods, to theatrical activity in parliament, and with considerable success. For the opposition, too, incapable of lending a wider reach and depth to politics, parliament will be its only showground if it does not marshal a new effort to this end. The ruling party and opposition’s internal balances will also be monitored to a large extent based on comings and goings in parliament.
-Is liveliness to be expected in an expanded parliament?
Events at the swearing-in ceremony in parliament and reflections onstage and backstage from the first group meetings suggest that the post-24 June political configuration will to a large extent be visible in parliament. For example, rumours doing the rounds about the Good Party about it being an option for a new coalition gave rise to interesting photographs in the general assembly hall. Protests, applause, rubbing of elbows and tensions point to a lively performance being on the cards.
Currently, the groups in parliament in which eight parties will be represented do not appear too disciplined apart from the AKP and MHP. With congress proceedings or internal dispute leaving their mark on the CHP group and the great variety of things it stands for on the HDP’s, liveliness is to be expected from them. The balance of the ruling coalition may also change in the coming days in a way that increases the MHP’s clout. Just as it may have difficulty preserving its voter base, the same may apply to the Good Party ‘s party group.
-Surely there is no need to attach importance to parliament in the new period?
The new trend that Muharrem İnce is pushing is making it harder for the CHP to adapt to the “new system.” Even if reversion to the parliamentary system has of necessity fallen by the wayside, there is a mismatch between demanding democracy and being in a hurry to declare the only address at which the people’s representatives are to be found unnecessary. On the contrary, function must be found for parliament, the sole area of democratic representation that remains in the hands of the people, and it must be turned into a rostrum.
In the coming days, parliament will turn into an arena in which the ruling block’s alliance strains become visible. The make-up of the cabinet and the relations it establishes with politics may intensify these strains. The tendency for parliament to reflect what lies behind politics may increase with its administrative effect weakened. With the local election set-up inevitably turning the AKP and CHP into the focal points of politics, this may make forays that leave a mark on politics by the other actors harder.