CHP urges Gül to veto bill on presidential vote

CHP urges Gül to veto bill on presidential vote

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP urges Gül to veto bill on presidential vote

President Abdullah Gül (L) wears a calpac he received as a gift during his visit to the Central Anatolian province of Niğde on Jan 20. Gül told reporters that it was up to the opposition to seek the cancellation of the presidential vote bill if they contested it. DHA Photo

Turkey’s main opposition has urged President Abdullah Gül to veto a bill fixing his term to seven years and warned it will otherwise ask the Constitutional Court to scrap the legislation.

“This bill is obviously unconstitutional; Gül should send it back [to Parliament]. We are considering going to the Constitutional Court, but I hope common sense will emerge before this and a mistake will be corrected. Otherwise, we will have a presidential crisis on the doorstep,” Akif Hamzaçebi of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) told reporters yesterday.

The controversy over Gül’s mandate flared again after lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed the bill through Parliament late Jan. 19, overriding opposition objections the president was entitled to a once renewable five-year term under the incumbent Constitution.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) joined the CHP call for Gül to veto the legislation. “The president, who represents the state’s unity and integrity, should not bow to any force and veto this law,” MHP Deputy Group Chairman Oktay Vural said.

Speaking during a visit to Niğde, Gül stepped into the debate, saying it was up to the opposition to seek the cancellation of the bill if they contested it. “If the main opposition party claims the bill is unconstitutional, then it seems they should apply to the Constitutional Court.”

CHP deputies, however, accused Gül of shifting his responsibility to the opposition.

“Gül’s five-year term expires Aug. 28, 2012. The presidency will become contentious if Gül remains at his post after that time. There should be no such dispute over the presidency,” Hamzaçebi said.
The CHP’s Emine Ülker Tarhan urged Gül “to take the side of the Constitution,” while CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he would comment on the issue in his parliamentary speech Jan. 24.

Gül has 15 days to decide whether to sign the bill into law or send it back to Parliament. If Parliament passes it for a second time without changes, Gül should either approve it or ask the Constitutional Court to scrap it.

Gül was elected for a single seven-year term in August 2007, but two months later, constitutional changes approved at a referendum revised the law to entitle presidents to a once-renewable, five-year term only. The AKP argues the amendments cannot serve retroactively, while the opposition says the Constitution currently in force is binding for everybody.

The provision on Gül’s tenure was added to a bill intended to set the procedural rules for the first popular vote Turkey will hold to elect a president when Gül’s mandate expires.

In further controversy, provisions relating to fundraising for presidential candidates sparked concern among the opposition on grounds no mechanism would be in place to supervise the donations and penalize wrongdoing before the winner is confirmed. Under the bill, donations for candidates would be made public weeks after the winner is already confirmed.