Erdoğan says he will run for presidency for last time

Turkish President Erdoğan has said that he will run for the presidency in the upcoming elections for the last time, and then will “pave the way to the youth.”

President Erdoğan speaks during the mass opening ceremony in Samsun province on Dec. 10 (AA)

Duvar English

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 10 that he will run for the presidency for the June 2023 elections for the last time.

“In 2023, we will start the construction of the Century of Turkey and pave the way to the youth with the strength we will get from the support we have asked for the last time on our behalf from the nation,” Erdoğan said during an opening ceremony in the Black Sea province of Samsun, implying that this is the last time he will put forward his candidacy for the presidency.

“Everyone can see the huge difference between Turkey, which we inherited from our elders, and Turkey, which we will hand over to the youth,” Erdoğan further said.

“A person who has been ruling the country for so many years, of course, may have shortcomings and mistakes. The biggest problem of the old Turkey was that those, who nation gave authority, were not being held accountable. We do this accounting on our own, without leaving it to anyone else,” he added.

Criticizing the appointment of American economist Jeremy Rifkin as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdoğan said “We have not (ruled) with such imported consultants, you (the people) are enough.”

“This brother of yours has been in politics for 50 years together with you. We have always spoken in the language of our nation. We rejoiced in the joy of our nation. We were enraged by the anger of our nation,” he added.

Can Erdoğan run for another 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.

Erdoğan's five-year term of office expires in June 2023, and the debate is going on whether he could be a candidate again.

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 deputies 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.

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of MHP from the ruling alliance, said that there is no obstacle for Erdoğan to be a candidate again.

Previously, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had said that his party will not object to Erdoğan's candidacy.

Opposition’s candidate

While some CHP figures claimed that Kılıçdaroğlu will be their candidate, there is no official announcement yet.

Some experts say that CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu should run for presidency because Kılıçdaroğlu may not attract enough conservative voters from the ruling alliance. They also think that Erdoğan's election campaign may beat Kılıçdaroğlu's because of the former's rhetoric. There are also some polls suggesting that İmamoğlu and CHP's Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş are in front of Kılıçdaroğlu against Erdoğan in a possible electoral competition.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) officials also say they are very open to having “a joint candidate” as long as their principles are satisfied.