Turkish PM defends Erdoğan’s public rallies, claims no constitutional restrictions

Turkish PM defends Erdoğan’s public rallies, claims no constitutional restrictions

Turkish PM defends Erdoğan’s public rallies, claims no constitutional restrictions

DHA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s public rallies ahead of one of Turkey’s most important elections are “neither extraordinary nor abnormal,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, arguing that there are no constitutional restrictions preventing such meetings. 

“As a figure in the highest position of the state, he meets with the people and expresses his opinions with them. He has the right and the power to outline his views. This is neither extraordinary nor abnormal,” Davutoğlu said in a televised interview late on May 16. 

Upon a question about opposition criticism that Erdoğan is breaching the law and the constitutional principle of impartiality, Davutoğlu denied there were any such constitutional restrictions.

“He expresses his views and you may not find them right. You may respond. The opposition also has responsibility on this, apart from our president and me. They ignore the president when they want and then they criticize him over impartiality at other times. You should first show respect to that position [of president],” he said, emphasizing that Erdoğan was elected with the support of 52 percent of the people in the country’s first direct vote to elect the president in August 2014. 

Erdoğan, who stepped down from the leadership of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in after he was elected president, has recently held a number of public rallies during which he calls for “400 lawmakers” so that Turkey can adopt the presidential system. In these meetings, Erdoğan strongly slams all oppositional parties and their election promises.

His successor as AKP head, Davutoğlu, said these moves are “normal” and do not carry a special meaning. 
“Our president can share his opinions and thoughts with the people. Our main competitors are the other parties. Let’s continue this competition in a gentlemanly, civilized manner, within democratic rules,” he said. 

Turkey’s constitution outlines that the president should be impartial and at an equal distance from all political parties. The opposition parties recently appealed to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) over President Erdoğan’s interventions in the election process but could not get a positive answer. 

Davutoğlu said it was “up to the judiciary” to decide on such appeals. 

“But let’s think about it another way. Who is trying to drag the president into this discussion?” he asked, adding that no president in the past was subject to such heavy insults as Erdoğan.