Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated on Jan. 22 that he might use his constitutional authority to call early presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Officially, the President has authority (in the Constitution). As President, we will use this authority,” Erdoğan said during a youth event in Bursa province, implying that he might on March 10 call early elections for the date of May 14, a month earlier than scheduled.
A day after, Erdoğan similarly said while speaking after the Cabinet meeting that “We would be pleased if our parliament announces early elections with a three-fifths majority, according to our Constitution. If the required majority won't be achieved, we, as the President, will take our decision and start the process.”
According to the Constitution, both Parliament (with the approval of 360 lawmakers out of 600) and the President have the authority to call early election.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after the debates on whether he can legitimately run for office as this is his second term.
Erdoğan became president for the first time in the presidential elections held in 2014.
He later took office as the first president of the new executive presidential system in the elections held in June 2018. Under the new system, a person can be elected president at most two times.
Pro-government circles say that there is no legal obstacle for Erdoğan to be nominated once again under the new system because the presidency has assumed a different role with the 2017 constitutional reform. However, critics point out that Article 101 of the Turkish Constitution puts a two-term limit on the presidency. A change in the Constitution for this issue needs the votes of two-thirds majority in parliament (400 lawmakers) which the ruling alliance falls short of achieving.
According to critics, another way for Erdoğan to become a candidate is if the Parliament decides to hold early elections with the approval of 360 lawmakers out of 600. The total number of seats in the People's Alliance, consisting of ruling AKP, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the ultranationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP), is 335.
The High Election Board (YSK) has the final say on whether Erdoğan can run for presidency.