Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will on Tuesday afternoon submit its official application for the presidential candidacy of incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the forthcoming elections.
Tuesday is the application deadline for eligible political parties to nominate candidates for running in the 14 May elections.
Erdoğan’s application to the country’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) will once again spark discussions on whether the president can run for a third time after bringing elections forward by a presidential decision without a parliamentary vote.
Legal experts claim that Erdoğan’s candidacy will violate the Turkish constitution which stipulates that a president can only serve for two consecutive terms.
Erdoğan was first elected as president in 2014. He was re-elected in 2018 elections, marking the start of Turkey’s new presidential system as approved by popular vote the year before.
AKP officials dismissed objections to Erdoğan’s candidacy on legal grounds claiming that the constitutional rule does not apply to Erdoğan since, under the new system, he has served only one term.
Turkey’s opposition parties are unlikely to apply to the YSK to challenge Erdoğan’s candidacy.
Reports in the Turkish media published in January pointed out that even Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Erdoğan’s strongest rival in upcoming elections, was unwilling to challenge Erdoğan’s candidacy.
“It is unlawful but they will use it to present themselves as victims,” Kılıçdaroğlu allegedly told his party members on the issue of challenging Erdoğan’s candidacy.
YSK could rule that the president is not eligible to run in this year’s elections even without a stand from opposition parties. However this possibility is low, since over the last few years Erdoğan has reappointed most YSK election watchdog members to sympathetic names.
Turkish law allows all citizens to apply to the YSK to challenge the eligibility of a presidential candidate.