The unconstitutional ‘semi-presidentialism’ in France and Turkey: how does popular consent enable presidents to abuse power?
AuthorKejanlıoğlu, Atagün Mert
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CitationKejanlıoğlu, A.M. (2017). The unconstitutional ‘Semi-Presidentialism’ in France and Turkey: How does popular consent enable presidents to abuse power?. American Society of Comparative Law, Younger Comparativists Committee, 6th International Conference.
When Maurice Duverger wrote his article on semi-presidential systems, he was aiming to defy the binary approach stuck between presidential and parliamentary form of government. However, the category and its definition are still contested. Despite the debate around the concept, France remains an archetype to this form of government for majority of scholars. When Duverger classified France as an example of semi-presidential government and a country with all-powerful presidency, he pointed out merely four cases of unconstitutional use of powers and concluded that the consent of Prime Ministers enabled the transfer of powers to the President. Yet, as the French cohabitation experience proved, Article 21 of the Constitution states clearly that the head of government is not the President of Republic but the Prime Minister and the consent of Prime Minister does not clear the unconstitutional nature of this transfer of power. The French experience of semi-presidentialism is a particular example to compare with Turkey in this sense, as Turkey’s current President is the first President that has been popularly elected, and de facto transfer of Prime Minister’s powers to the President is a gradual and continuing phenomenon within the system. I argue that implementing a popularly elected president to a constitution originally designed for a rationalized parliamentary regime creates a risk regarding the abuse of presidential power. To this aim, the transformation of Turkish and French systems will be analyzed not only in a strictly legal perspective but also within the historical and political circumstances surrounding the election of first popularly elected Presidents.