Changing the system through instrumentalizing weak political institutions: the quest for a presidential system in Turkey in historical and comparative perspective


TURKISH STUDIES, vol.18, no.4, pp.577-600, 2017 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683849.2017.1347508
  • Journal Name: TURKISH STUDIES
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.577-600
  • Keywords: Turkish politics, presidentialism, constitutional reform, institutionalization, executive-legislative relations
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Since the 1990s, debates on a constitutional system reform in Turkey have ignited controversies over the executive structure of its parliamentary system. This article looks at the debate in terms of the interaction between institutional dynamics and politicians' choices, shaped by past institutional transformations following transitions. It is contended that institutional weaknesses underlying both the presidency and executive-legislative relations in Turkey have provided strong incentives for incumbent elites to challenge existing parliamentary norms and advocate presidential alternatives. Far from contributing to a sober diagnosis of the problems of parliamentarism, the recent constitutional amendment introducing a system of executive presidency has further divided Turkey's already polarized political and civil society.