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Turkish referendum; good for Ireland too?

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  • 12-03-2017 2:38pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭


    The referendum proposes a switch from a UK style parliamentary democracy to a more US style presidential one.

    While generally described in the media as a power grab by the authoritarian Erdogan, that is not necessarily the case.
    Proposed new Executive Orders issued by the president would be deemed invalid if they contadicted legislation enacted by the parliament. We have seen this happening recently in the US, where the system provides an effective curb on the president's powers.
    The President becomes both the head of state and head of government, with the power to appoint and sack ministers and VP. The president can issue decrees about executive. If legislation makes a law about the same topic that President issued an executive order, decree will become invalid and parliamentery law become valid.
    If we had a similar constitutional referendum in Ireland we could make the same switch.

    It could result in a more effective government. For example in the Irish Water debacle, the government would not find itself hamstrung in the kind of stalemate in which it now finds itself.

    Also, in Ireland's case, it would result in the separation of powers being improved. In our current system the Taoiseach has effective control of two powers; both the Dail and "the government" (ie both the legislative and the executive powers of the state) while the president is nothing but a figurehead.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,273 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody


    No it is definitely the case of a power grab by Erdogan; he wants to be the new dictator Sultan of Turkey and transform it from a secular Muslim country to a Muslim religious court style of country instead. Erdogan has also used every excuse to undermine anything and everything that could possibly stop him inc. the parliament, the military, the court system, the free press etc.

    The sad part is it will take until he dies for Turkey to have a chance to return to even a semblance of democracy again but it's along with Trump a clear case of you get the man in power you deserve in a democracy.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Nody wrote: »
    No it is definitely the case of a power grab by Erdogan....
    If that is the case, then he is going about it the wrong way. What he needs is an Enabling Act instead.


  • Posts: 11,614 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]


    recedite wrote: »
    Also, in Ireland's case, it would result in the separation of powers being improved. In our current system the Taoiseach has effective control of two powers; both the Dail and "the government" (ie both the legislative and the executive powers of the state) while the president is nothing but a figurehead.

    If the Taoiseach has effective control of two powers why can we not get anything done? Even Bertie couldnt get a Bertie Bowl built at a time when we had more money than we knew what to do with.

    William Blum wrote that Americas most dangerous export was it's version of democracy. I think giving Erdogan executive powers is definitely a power grab and should definitely be feared if not worried about.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    If the Taoiseach has effective control of two powers why can we not get anything done?
    Good question. In a minority govt. like we have at present, he only holds "power" because he has done a deal with other people (FF) who won't let him do certain things. Which leaves him in partial control of the two powers, and nobody at all in control of whatever he lacks control over.
    But whenever the Taoiseach is the leader of a majority party he does hold total control over the two powers.

    So this contrasts with a presidential system where the president would always have total control of the executive power, and the Dail would have total control over legislation. The Seanad would be superflous, as it is now, but could be retained in a similar way to the UK House of Lords, which it apes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,325 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    A Taoiseach / prime minister can be deposed by 50%+1 of the governing party / coalition. A president might only be deposable by 50%+1 of a parliament.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Victor wrote: »
    A Taoiseach / prime minister can be deposed by 50%+1 of the governing party / coalition.
    Is that a good thing? It means a private political party holds a power that should really be held only by either the judiciary, or the sovereign people.

    A topical point though, given that Enda looks like he is aiming to transfer his power to one of his cronies in the near future.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,325 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    The ability to remove a lame-duck (Reynolds) taoisech / prime-minister or one that has lost the run of himself (Ahern) is important.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,747 ✭✭✭✭wes


    Erdogan has lost the run of himself. He could have used the attempted coup to enhance democracy in Turkey, instead he wants to make himself a tin pot dictator.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,273 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody


    wes wrote: »
    Erdogan has lost the run of himself. He could have used the attempted coup to enhance democracy in Turkey, instead he wants to make himself a tin pot dictator.
    Why would you expect the coup to suddenly change the direction he's been working on for the last decade?


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,747 ✭✭✭✭wes


    Nody wrote: »
    Why would you expect the coup to suddenly change the direction he's been working on for the last decade?

    That it may have scared him to moderate his bahaviour. I was rather spectacularly wrong.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,273 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody


    wes wrote: »
    That it may have scared him to moderate his bahaviour. I was rather spectacularly wrong.
    To late; he neutered the army in the early years and after that he felt untouchable. The only thing the coup did was scare him and scared little men always lash out but they don't change direction; if anything they accelerate the goals they want to achieve.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,747 ✭✭✭✭wes


    Nody wrote: »
    To late; he neutered the army in the early years and after that he felt untouchable. The only thing the coup did was scare him and scared little men always lash out but they don't change direction; if anything they accelerate the goals they want to achieve.

    The only hope is that he fails spectacularly.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    If we switched to a more US style presidential system, I doubt there would be any of this talk about giving votes to "the diaspora".

    Though having said that, the Turks are obviously giving their diaspora a vote in the upcoming referendum. Whether their diaspora will be allowed to vote for any future president is another matter though. Dissidents such as the Gulen followers tend to be based abroad.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,112 ✭✭✭Blowfish


    There's plenty to dislike about how bogged down overly bureaucratic institutions/governments can get, but the flip side is that they do tend to produce stable democracies that are pretty resistant to takeover from authoritarian autocrats that are hungry for power. Given that choice, I'd certainly prefer to stick with what we have.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Its not about bureaucracy V authoritarianism though. That is a misunderstanding based on the assumption that Erdogan is a demagogue (which is true, but irrelevant to the constitutional matter).
    In France and the USA the president holds executive power, they are stable systems, and they have plenty of bureaucracy. They have good separation of powers, which safeguards democracy.

    The idea of power being invested in a prime minister is just a vestige of monarchy. The prime minister was originally the confidante and the personal representative of the monarch, though in later times they were elected.
    100 years ago Britain controlled both Ireland and Turkey, so its not surprising that we have both inherited some vestiges of the British monarchy. Good luck to Turks as they dump these useless vestigial organs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,325 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    recedite wrote: »
    100 years ago Britain controlled both Ireland and Turkey
    100 years ago, the UK was at war with the Ottoman Empire.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    After WWI the Ottoman empire was partitioned and occupied by British and French troops. Turkish nationalists fought back, and following a guerilla war of independence 1919-1922 they established their own independent republic.

    The Turks view of what a democratic republic should look like was strongly influenced by the British parliamentary system, which had itself evolved from a monarchy as opposed to being purpose designed from scratch like the US presidential system.

    So there are a lot of parallels with Irish history, oddly enough.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,112 ✭✭✭Blowfish


    recedite wrote: »
    Its not about bureaucracy V authoritarianism though. That is a misunderstanding based on the assumption that Erdogan is a demagogue (which is true, but irrelevant to the constitutional matter).
    In France and the USA the president holds executive power, they are stable systems, and they have plenty of bureaucracy. They have good separation of powers, which safeguards democracy.
    And this is exactly the problem with the Turkish referendum, it reduces the separation of powers hugely. You mentioned that the President's decree's can be 'overruled' if Parliament enacts legislation in the same area, but this ignores the fact that the President will have veto power over legislation so nothing's going to get enacted that he doesn't want enacted anyway.

    Also, getting rid of the President will be near impossible. Parliament can vote to indict (impeach) the President with a 2/3 majority, which then goes to the Turkish equivalent of a Supreme court. Any guesses on how that'll go when the President gets to appoint 12 of the 15 members of this court?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Blowfish wrote: »
    the President will have veto power over legislation so nothing's going to get enacted that he doesn't want enacted anyway.
    As always, the devil is in the detail, and no doubt Erdogan will want to tweak a good system so that it works in his favour.
    But what is your source for that claim? AFAIK a presidential veto would be overuled by a parliamentary majority.
    Blowfish wrote: »
    Also, getting rid of the President will be near impossible. Parliament can vote to indict (impeach) the President with a 2/3 majority, which then goes to the Turkish equivalent of a Supreme court. Any guesses on how that'll go when the President gets to appoint 12 of the 15 members of this court?
    In Ireland all of our judges are political appointees. The only reason it works at all, is that judges stay in position much longer than the administration that appoints them. Hence there are always plenty of them around who have been appointed at some time in the past by the opposition. As long as the current administration is not allowed to fire judges, it works reasonably well. The same should apply in Turkey.

    Having said that, I prefer the continental european tradition where selection is based on merit, not on political influence and "who you know". Any good student who does well in exams can go on to do the specific legal training and eventually become a judge.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,234 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    recedite wrote: »
    In Ireland all of our judges are political appointees. The only reason it works at all, is that judges stay in position much longer than the administration that appoints them. Hence there are always plenty of them around who have been appointed at some time in the past by the opposition. As long as the current administration is not allowed to fire judges, it works reasonably well. The same should apply in Turkey.

    Having said that, I prefer the continental european tradition where selection is based on merit, not on political influence and "who you know". Any good student who does well in exams can go on to do the specific legal training and eventually become a judge.
    And yet the general view is that continental judges are more subservient to the government than judges in common-law systems. As career civil servants, professional advancement depends on impressing their (political) masters.

    And, for the record, I think it's not quite fair to suggest that the Irish system works only because the judiciary contains plenty of people appointed by different administrations. I think most observers would agree that its very hard to detect any bias in Irish judges that ties back to the party in power when they were appointed. It's certainly true that support for/involvement with a political party improves your chances of being appointed but, once appointed, judges are genuinely independent and there's no sense that the party that appointed them expects any favours from them, or that a judge appointed through the influence of (say) the Labour party will deliver more "socialist" judgments than a judge appointed through the influence of some more right-wing party.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,821 ✭✭✭CrabRevolution


    It always amazes me how people in the USA are totally fine with having openly "conservative" and "liberal" judges on their supreme court, and that in a lot of cases you know in advance what each justice's opinion will be before the case is even argued.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,234 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    It always amazes me how people in the USA are totally fine with having openly "conservative" and "liberal" judges on their supreme court, and that in a lot of cases you know in advance what each justice's opinion will be before the case is even argued.
    I think that's overstated, actually. People seize on the question of which party was in office when a particular judge was nominated because that's an easily quantifiable metric, but it's not as good a predictor of how the judge will decide issues as the commentary would have you believe. Presidents/Senates try to choose judges whose judicial philosophies they like, but once appointed the judges are not beholden to them, and their thinking does continue to develop. The decisions they give can be a nasty surprise to the people who appointed them.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    I think most observers would agree that its very hard to detect any bias in Irish judges that ties back to the party in power when they were appointed.
    "Hard to detect", yes.
    And yet.... such cases do occasionally come to light.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,325 ✭✭✭✭Victor


    recedite wrote: »
    "Hard to detect", yes.
    And yet.... such cases do occasionally come to light.

    That's not quite the same thing. That's interference in the application of justice, not (say) a supreme court decision on ideological grounds that property rights should be protected much more strongly against the common good or vice versa.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,234 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    What Victor said. Plus, i don't recall any suggestion that Hugh O'Flaherty's involvement was in any way linked to Fianna Fail affiliations. Rather, there was a personal, "friend-of-a-friend" connection to Sheedy through Sheedy's employment.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭Mutant z


    Erdogan is nothing more than a power mad tyrant,he must be stood up to at all costs.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Victor wrote: »
    That's not quite the same thing. That's interference in the application of justice...
    Its political interference in the judicial sytem; pulling strings and calling in favours.
    The whole tangled web was never really unravelled, because two judges resigned and that put an end to it.
    But it started off with Bertie Ahern owing a favour, and then calling in favours from people in the judicial system. That is a fundamental breach of the separation of powers, which separation should be designed into a proper republic to prevent exactly that type of corruption.

    And it ended up with politicians awarding (or trying to award) various plum jobs to the fall guys.
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/plum-job-for-sheedy-affair-pal-of-ahern-26241241.html
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/bench-for-exjudges-wife-26646789.html


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Victory declared for Yes vote at 51.3%, with nearly all votes now counted.
    Turkey will now progress on to a US style presidential system, ditching the UK style PM.
    It will of course be portrayed by the European media as a power grab by Erdogan, but constitutional changes will last far beyond one person's lifespan. Its like opposing US independence/constitution back in 1776 on the basis that George Washington was too uppity.

    A good result for Turkey.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,858 ✭✭✭✭PopePalpatine


    You're just hoping your beloved Donald would take inspiration, aren't you? :rolleyes:

    I love how a power grab is just "uppity" nowadays. :rolleyes:


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  • Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,793 Mod ✭✭✭✭oscarBravo


    recedite wrote: »
    It will of course be portrayed by the European media as a power grab by Erdogan, but constitutional changes will last far beyond one person's lifespan.

    There's some weird logic in that sentence. It's almost as if the fact that future presidents will be beneficiaries of the power grab makes it not a power grab.


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