Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 23 that they will not object if President Erdoğan “unconstitutionally” runs for presidency.
“Let's say we objected to it. The High Election Board (YSK) has the final say. It is Erdoğan who appointed YSK members. There is nowhere to object to YSK’s ruling. Even the Constitutional Court (AYM) cannot reconsider their ruling,” he said during a press conference held in the İzmit district of the Kocaeli province in northwestern Turkey, according to reporting by daily Sözcü.
“Therefore, we have no intention of being locked into the thought of whether Erdoğan is a candidate or not. Erdoğan might be a candidate or not, but we want to win the election by securing the integrity of it and bring Turkey to the axis of democracy,” he added.
Some critics criticized Kılıçdaroğlu's stance.
"In an electoral authoritarian regime, if the leader of the main opposition surrenders on every issue and closes the issue without speaking to the voters instead of the partisan institutions, this will be the result. (Kılıçdaroğlu) takes the wind out of opposition's sail. So what will you do if there will be cheating on the election night? Isn't the YSK the competent authority there, too?" political scientist Berk Esen commented.
Seçimli otoriter rejimde ana muhalefet lideri her konuda teslimiyet içine girer ve partizan kurumlar yerine seçmene konuşmadan konuyu kapatırsa, sonuç bu olur. Muhalefeti söndürüyor. Peki secim akşamı hile yapılırsa ne yapacaksınız o zaman?Orada da yetkili merci YSK değil mi? https://t.co/CbzT3CgHxd— Berk (@berkesen) January 23, 2023
Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks came after the debates on whether Erdoğan 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.