A nationalist opposition party has announced that it will file a petition with Turkey’s election authority challenging the third consecutive presidential candidacy of current head of state Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, according to the party’s spokesperson.
İYİ (Good) Party spokesperson Kürşad Zorlu said at a news conference at party headquarters in Ankara that the party would file a petition with the Supreme Election Board (YSK) later on Monday disputing the candidacy of Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election in polls to be held on May 14.
Zorlu said the constitution makes clear that a person cannot be elected for the top state post for more than two terms.
Debates among Turkish politicians on whether Erdoğan is eligible to run in the 2023 presidential election were reignited after Erdoğan set May 14 as the date of presidential and parliamentary elections and announced his bid to run as a presidential candidate.
Debates continue about whether Erdoğan can run for a third term due to a change in the system, with some claiming he isn’t legally eligible because he has already served two terms and cannot run for a third.
Erdoğan was first elected president for a five-year renewable term in 2014 by a direct vote under the parliamentary system. Turkey switched to the presidential system of governance with a referendum in 2017 and held snap presidential and parliamentary polls in 2018, when Erdoğan was elected president again. Under the presidential system, a person can be elected president for a five-year renewable term if the election is held as scheduled.
According to the government, there is no legal obstacle barring Erdoğan’s candidacy because his first election took place under the now-replaced parliamentary system.
The YSK announced over the weekend that it had accepted applications from Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties, to run in the presidential election.
The İYİ Party is part of the opposition alliance, known as the Nation Alliance, and supports Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The YSK is being criticized for bias in favor of Erdoğan and his party while making decisions against opposition parties and politicians.
Since all YSK members are appointed by Erdoğan, it is seen as unlikely for them to issue a decision against Erdoğan’s candidacy.