Turkish opposition bloc rejects Erdoğan’s 'unconstitutional' candidacy

After their last meeting, the Table of Six, an alliance of six Turkish opposition parties, has stated that President Erdoğan cannot “constitutionally” run for office for a third time unless the Parliament decides to call an early election.

Duvar English

The Table of Six, leaders of Turkey's six opposition parties, on Jan. 26 met for the eleventh time. 

“Table of Six” is the name of alliance of the six opposition parties that are united to change Turkey’s presidential regime to “strengthened parliamentary system”, consisting the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), center-right İYİ (Good) Party, Islamist Felicity (Saadet) Party, Democrat Party (DP), DEVA (Democracy and Progress) Party and Future (Gelecek) Party.

The opposition leaders released a joint statement after their meeting which was held at İYİ Party headquarters, saying that they discussed how to choose the joint presidential candidate.

“We would like to announce that the six political parties are working in consultation, consensus and reflecting the preferences of the people in determining the presidential candidate,” they said.

“Turkey's 13th President will be the candidate of the Nation Alliance,” they added, for the first time referring to six parties as Nation Alliance.

They also said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cannot “constitutionally” run for office for a third time unless parliament decides to call an early election.

“There is no room for hesitation in the Constitution and the law, it is not possible for Mr. Erdoğan to be a candidate in the elections to be held on 14 May, unless the Parliament decides to call an early election. The President's announcement of his candidacy for the third time, contrary to the Constitution, is another tragedy he has added to our history of democracy. We do not accept this action that ignores the Constitution,” they said.

Their 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 office.

The chairs announced that they would hold their next meeting on Feb. 13 at the Felicity Party headquarters. They are expected to announce the presidential candidate at this meeting for the election that Erdoğan signaled to be held on May 14.