CHP ponders action over president’s term

CHP ponders action over president’s term

Hüseyin Hayatsever ANKARA
CHP ponders action over president’s term

Turkey’s current President Abdullah Gül will serve seven years, according to a recent presidential election law.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is poised to ask the Constitutional Court to scrap a law that fixed President Abdullah Gül’s term at seven years. The final decision will be made at a party meeting next week.

“We have no doubt that the bill is unconstitutional, but we will evaluate the issue at our party’s Central Executive Board meeting [on Jan. 30] and then announce our decision,” CHP Deputy Group Chairman Akif Hamzaçebi told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Despite strong objections from the opposition, Gül approved late Jan. 25 the controversial presidential election law, which includes a provision fixing his term to seven years. CHP had urged Gül to veto the bill on grounds that it contradicted the incumbent Constitution.

Another CHP Deputy Group Chair Emine Ülker Tarhan argued Gül had failed his primary duty of protecting the Constitution by approving “an unconstitutional bill.”

The CHP leadership will decide the timing and the procedure of an application to the Constitutional Court on Jan. 30.

Parliament elected Gül for a single seven-year term in 2007, but under constitutional amendments approved at a referendum shortly afterward, presidents became entitled to once-renewable five-year term. In a separate change, a popular vote was introduced to elect the president.

The opposition argues the amendments are binding for Gül, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) maintains they cannot be implemented retroactively to shorten his original tenure.

Critics say the law was tailor-made to suit Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s widely expected move to ascend to the presidency after Gül completes his tenure in 2014.

The CHP has also raised concerns over provisions related to fund-raising in the presidential elections on the grounds no mechanism would be in place to supervise the donations and penalize wrongdoing before the winner is confirmed. Under the law, donations for candidates would only be made public weeks after the race is concluded. CHP lawmakers have also questioned the absence of any limit to in-kind assistance for presidential candidates.