ISTANBUL, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Whether to adopt a new presidential system in Turkey has sparked wide debates among top government officials and academicians, as it turns into one of the hottest issues in the Turkish political scene.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who suggests the new system, has frequently voiced his hope of switching to a new presidential system.
Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had officially submitted a proposal to parliament for moving forward into a new presidential system in Turkey's new constitution.
However, many Turkish public and academicians doubt the necessity to adopt a presidential system and its further implications on the country's democratization process.
Ersin Kalaycioglu, professor of political sciences of Turkey's Sabanci University, noted that the presidential system proposed by the AK Party does not conform to the U.S. presidential system and it lacks institutional mechanism of checks and balances between the branches of government.
"The AK Party proposal seems to aim at concentrating all the power in the presidential office. This kind of presidential system is a recipe for authoritarianism," Kalaycioglu added.
"I am not favoring a switch to presidential system in Turkey and I hope not. Personally I think there are no democratic values enshrined in this system proposed by AK Party. Everybody knows it is just a way for Erdogan to remain in power after he finishes his final term as prime minister," Joost Lagendijk, a Senior Advisor at the Istanbul Policy Center, told Xinhua.
A recent survey shows that the majority of Turks are against the adoption of presidential system.
The survey dubbed "Social and Political Trends in Turkey" which is conducted by Istanbul-based Kadir Has University showed that about 65.8 percent of respondents said Turkey should continue with the current parliamentary system of government in the new constitution.
The survey's result was published on Feb. 19 by various mainstream Turkish media.
Tercan Ali Basturk, general secretary of the Istanbul-based NGO Medialog Platform, voiced concerns over switching to presidential system.
"I don't want this presidential system. Obviously it is just for Erdogan himself, not for Turkish public. And it is bad that the current government mix the presidential system proposal together with drafting the new constitution. I am afraid this would stall the process of new constitution," he said.
In response to the public's strong opposition to a presidential system, Turkish government intends to relieve tension by saying that it would not allow the presidential system proposal to block efforts to draw up a new constitution.
"If the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission reaches a consensus and agrees on all provisions of a draft except for the presidential system, then we will not let our proposal for a presidential system block a new constitution," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday.
Bozdag, however, said the government is still defending the presidential system, adding that the system is the best for Turkish democracy.
The government would not insist on making the transition if all parties agree on the other aspects of a new constitution, another Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said on Jan. 19.
Meantime, the European Union voiced concerns over the prospects of Turkey's switch to presidential system.
The EU's is afraid that the presidential system proposal would hamper the democratization process in Turkey.
The EU believes the proposal aims at creating a post which will hardly be compatible with the democratic standards of a European country.
According to the AK Party's proposals, the president will gain sweeping powers, including calling for new parliamentary elections, acting as commander-in-chief, deciding on the deployment of the armed forces when Parliament is in recess, appointing half of the members of the Higher Education Board (YOK), Constitutional Court, Council of State and the HSYK, and appointing university rectors and the chief public prosecutor.
These transitions can produce a large concentration of power at the presidential office. President would possess the power to dissolve the legislature or appoint judges without legislative approval.
"Such a president will be a threat to the separation of powers and to representative democracy," Kalaycioglu added.
Erdogan and AK Party's support for presidential system has attracted great public attention. In November 2012, AK Party referred its proposal for a shift to presidential system to Parliament.
It is expected that as Erdogan's final term as prime minister is going to finish in 2015, he aims at changing Turkey to presidential system and become the first Turkish president under the new system.
Turkey's current political system is based on a separation of powers. The executive power is exercised by the government. The legislative power is vested in both the government and Parliament.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Currently, the president is elected every five years by public vote in Turkey. Executive power rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. Turkey's next presidential elections will be held in 2014.
Incumbent Turkish President Abdullah Gul is eligible to run for a second term in office.
Meanwhile, Erdogan can be nominated for the presidency without having to resign from his post.
However, under the current parliamentary system, Turkish president holds a largely ceremonial role and the prime minister is the head of government with substantial powers.
Thus the future president post may satisfy Erdogan's ambition as the major ruling executive of the country.