Could deputies elect the president?

Could deputies elect the president?

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Could deputies elect the president

President Abdullah Gül holds the ID card of a boy named after him during Eid el-Fitr celebrations. AA photo

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government overcame the crisis of not being able to elect Abdullah Gül in Parliament in 2007 by changing the system.

After then-President Ahmet Necdet Sezer’s term ended, the AKP government led by PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ran Gül as a candidate. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), led by Deniz Baykal at the time, decided to boycott Parliament during first-round elections, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted against Gül.

Then-Public Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoğlu said 367 members should be present for the opening of the Parliament. The Constitutional Court found his appeal right and canceled the first round of the election. But before the second round of the election took place, the “e-memorandum” was posted on the military’s website at around midnight on April 27, 2007. Gül could not be elected in the second round.

The AKP then drafted a regulation that the president be chosen by the people, and Sezer duly took it to a referendum. Gül became candidate again and was elected in the third round.

The regulation on the election of the president based on a public vote was approved in the referendum with 68 percent. But some structural problems have arisen due to the lack of a systemic change in the Constitution still in effect today. The main concern is whether the president and prime minister, both elected by a public vote, will have a struggle over authority. Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has voiced this concern several times over the year in his meetings with reporters, including the Hürriyet Daily News. The Parliament speaker likened the upcoming situation of the prime minister and president to two trains traveling on the same railroad. “Both will be elected by people. The president will be a chief executive who is elected with higher votes. There will be power ambiguity on many issues. The Constitution should be changed before the issue comes there,” he noted. Is it possible to make an amendment in the Constitution to prevent such a conflict? The Constitution Conciliation Commission wants to increase the articles that have been agreed upon from 62 to 80 and 100 this fall. Aside from the opposition, the AKP’s contribution in this cannot be ignored. This is interpreted as a sign that the AKP may change its stance about the election of the president by a popular vote.

It is not seen as possible to elect the president with 50 percent of the votes due to the Gezi incidents, the Kurdish problem, foreign developments and the fatigue from the government’s 11-year rule. The AKP may say “yes” to the election of the president by the Parliament. The CHP and the MHP are already not against it and they seem certain that the AKP will come up with this proposal. CHP deputy group head Akif Hamzaçebi said openly that “Erdoğan has no chance of being elected as president. I wonder when those who made the mistake of allowing people to elect the president in 2007 will change this. When will they bring this proposal to the Constitution Conciliation Commission?”

It seems that the first political moves have already started before the beginning of 2014...

Consensus on party closures

The four political parties in the Constitution Conciliation Commission have put their signatures to a historical consensus. The AKP, CHP, MHP and BDP agreed on the grounds for closing down political parties. This is important as the four parties have been victims of party closures. The AKP faced a closure case in 2008, while around 10 predecessors of the BDP were closed down. The CHP and MHP were closed down after the 1980 military coup.

The parties agreed that the criteria to close down a political party consisted of “resorting to violence or becoming a center to encourage violence.” Elements of “becoming a center” for violence will be regulated by law. A party closure case can be opened upon a demand from the Court of Appeals’ prosecutor and parliamentary approval from at least 330 deputies.

‘Yavuz Sultan’ insistence

Alevis reacted to the decision to name the third bridge after Ottoman sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim on the grounds that the sultan massacred their ancestors. However, PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party AKP insisted on the decision before organizing an opinion poll about the name, asking people, “What do you think about naming the third bridge after Yavuz Sultan Selim?” Some 60.9 percent said “yes” to the name, while 24.1 percent said “no.” Fifteen percent of respondents said they did not have any idea about it. The AKP abandoned the idea of putting a name change on its agenda after the poll despite reactions from Alevis in the party.