Erdoğan and ‘deinstitutionalization’ threat on Turkey
President Tayyip Erdoğan briefed journalists in Baku on June 17 about his contacts on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussel on June 13-14.
He defined the consensus with Greek Prime Minister Kriyakos Mitsotakis, the reconciliation of one of the most serious problems, according to him:
• “Hopefully, from now on, other states, institutions and organizations will not intervene in our relations with Greece. Instead, my special representative Mr. İbrahim [Kalın] and Ms. Eleni [Sourani] will communicate and meet, and we will take the steps accordingly.”
The end to the intervention of other states is understandable, but what does the “intervention of institutions and organizations” mean? Did he mean the European Union or NATO? Or did he also mean institutions and organizations such as the Turkish Foreign and Defense ministries, and hence, the Greece ministries?
Erdoğan’s tendency to carry out diplomacy on the level of leaders and through talks between the individuals, by-passing state institutions in international relations has started to turn into an obsession. We can observe this in his relationship with U.S. President Joe Biden. Donald Trump did many things that harmed Turkey but Erdoğan still described his relationship with the former U.S. leader as “peaceful” because he talked about everything directly with him. Thus, he displayed a great weakness of administration in terms of Turkey’s interests. This was a message to the leaders of other countries that they could come directly to Erdoğan if they face problems that they cannot solve with Turkish state institutions.
This has been the defacto situation since the abolishment of prime ministry in Turkey in 2018 with the introduction of the amorph “presidential government system.”
Erdoğan’s election ally Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has a better name for it, the “Turkish style presidential system.” Maybe Erdoğan expects personal decisions from the leaders of the other countries, thinking that they would not care about their parliaments, courts, or even constitutions, since he does not.
Well, does the “by-pass” of the institutions make things easier and faster as he propagated while suggesting the current system?
No. Maybe big contracts or even investments such as construction works that are delivered without the need for tender, and assignments to key positions regardless of the qualifications of the candidates are now handled with high speed. But in most other fields, government institutions have become more idle and slow. Every single issue, even the most ordinary daily affairs, has been subject to the approval of the president, so no decisions can be made in many serious areas. According to backstage information, thousands of files have piled up on Erdoğan’s desk for approval.
In other words, Erdoğan’s tendency to “take out institutions” is becoming an obsession not limited to diplomacy.
The danger of “deinstitutionalization”
Simone Kaslowski, the chair of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) says this situation, what he calls “deinstitutionalization”, poses the most crucial threat on the economy.
In his speech at the TÜSİAD High Advisory Council meeting on June 17, Kaslowski described this situation as follows:
-“We have multiple problems, such as the weakening of our institutions, short-term outlook in decision making and implementation, and an inadequate consultation process. This has replaced long-term, predictable, and scientific planning in decision-making and implementation.”
-“The cost of deinstitutionalization is constantly increasing. With each passing day, we see more clearly how this breakdown in institutions has seriously damaged the functioning of our administrative system, the welfare and peace of our society, and the appearance, reputation, and reliability of our country in the markets. Questions about the reliability of official data, the lack of authority of competent institutions, and the failure of adherence to merit-based criteria have made communication and interaction with the outside world difficult and hindered the transition to a strong economic outlook.”
-“Institutions are also important for the proper functioning of the democratic system.”
On allegations raised by fugitive mob leader Peker
The TÜSİAD chair’s speech came after a chain of recent meetings with the executives of both the governing AKP and opposition parties in Ankara and the representatives of several institutions. Tuncay Özilhan, the president of the TÜSİAD High Advisory Council, pointed to the rising unlawfulness as another serious problem in addition to deinstitutionalization:
• “Another issue that has worried and concerned all of us –women or women, old or young, employer or employee- is about the allegations of the existence of a network of complicated and dark relations that are in no way compatible with the understanding of the rule of law. These allegations lead to intense public debate on topics such as corruption, criminal organizations, political ethics, media ethics and business ethics. These doubts should be cleared in the eyes of the public.”
Özilhan did not mention any names but he was criticizing dirty relations that emerged with the videos of fugitive mob leader Sedat Peker, along with Erdoğan and his government’s failure to failure to address them. He ended his speech with the hope that the principles of the rule of law would be implemented:
• “If we can tackle the issues important to our democracy with a
structural and principled approach, confidence in the political system will be restored. Thus, instead of emphasizing the rule of law and democracy, we will have the opportunity to center our conversations around the details of economic issues.”
Workers, unemployed, pensioners, students and farmers already fail to make their voices heard by the government anyway. Do you think the employers will manage to do that?