Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Reforming the Policymaking Process in Turkey's New Presidential System

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

Reforming the Policymaking Process in Turkey's New Presidential System

Article excerpt


In the aftermath of the controversial presidential election in 2007, Turkey passed a constitutional referendum to introduce popular presidential elections. The country's president was elected directly by the people for the first time in 2014. As a result, the Turkish system of government moved closer to semi-presidentialism in practice, although it remained parliamentarism de jure. Taking into consideration the risks and problems that the system's ambiguity entailed, a new constitutional referendum was held on April 16, 2017 -when the electorate agreed to the adoption of the 'Presidency' system of government. Those changes presented Turkish policymakers with a new reform wave in public administration. Following the June 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, the country formally transitioned to presidentialism and it became necessary for the authorities to create a system of public administration compatible with the new system. Thus, Turkey restructured the organization and functions of its public administration, as the process of public policy development, the decision makers and their roles underwent certain changes.

The presidential system of government replaced the parliamentary system, under which a collective body had wielded executive power, and made it possible for a single, popularly-elected individual to exercise executive authority for a period of five years. Under the new rules, the president emerged as the main agent of policymaking. The Prime Ministry, which was a key policymaking body under parliamentarism, was abolished, as the organizational structure and functions of the Council of Ministers and the various ministries underwent certain changes. Likewise, the organization of the Presidency was revised in line with the president's constitutional powers and duties.

This article employs the process model, a frequently-used tool in public policy analysis, as a framework to make sense of the restructuring of the public administration and the changes in the policymaking process -which rose to prominence against the backdrop of Turkey's transition to a presidential system of government. In this context, the paper aims to analyze the country's new administrative model, which was designed to be compatible with the new system, and to identify the agents of policy development and their changing roles. Furthermore, it provides an analysis of Turkey's new system of government with reference to global reform trends.

In this regard, the first section of this article explains how the public policymaking process works; taking this process as an analytical framework, the article then engages in a discussion of the reasons behind Turkey's transition to a presidential system of government and how the transition process unfolded. It proceeds to analyze the central government's restructuring process within the context of public administration reforms of the recent years -with an emphasis on the changes that the Presidency has undergone. Finally, it examines, with an eye to the central government that was redesigned according to a presidential system of government, the policymaking process and the changing roles of policy actors under Turkey's new system.

Analysis Framework: Public Policymaking as a Political Process

The analysis of public policy relies on an approach that concentrates on policy actors, actor networks or institutions. Those approaches, however, tend to focus on some parts of the public policy process and ignore others. Furthermore, in cases where major changes, such as the adoption of a new system of government, take place, engaging in a network- or actor-centered analysis would be more suitable for micro-level examinations. Provided that the system operates on the macro level, it is better to examine the development of public policy as a political process comprised of a sequence of stages.

To be clear, viewing the development of public policy as a process with multiple stages isn't a novel approach. …

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