Turkey's parliament speaker on Monday said it was a "grave" mistake to argue that at least 367 lawmakers should be present in parliament to vote in the new president.
Speaking to the Habertürk TV channel on Sunday, Parliament Speaker Bülent Arýnç expressed his opinion of the recent legal discussions surrounding presidential elections.
Sabih Kanadoðlu, a former president of the Supreme Court of Appeals had earlier asserted that according to the constitution, at least 367 deputies had to be present in the voting. If not, the voting would have to be annulled. Opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, who has not yet announced he would run for president, have backed the assertion sparking a legal debate on the procedure of presidential elections. Erdoðan has been conducting surveys among his party's members as well as civil society organizations to measure the pulse of the public opinion on his potential candidacy.
In a discussion program Arýnç said that, according to the Constitution, every election in Parliament had a different procedure, setting a minimum number of deputies present in the hall. Stressing that at least 330 deputies had to be present during a vote to change an article in the Constitution, Arýnç demanded to know why nobody until today has ever challenged the number of deputies present in any of the past parliamentary votes, although the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has changed more than 40 articles of the Constitution during in its four years of power. "The reason is that the one-third requirement to hold a parliamentary session had been met. Until today all sessions had been held with the requirement of at least 184 deputies."
The parliament speaker said no objections had been brought against any of significant parliamentary voting in the history of the republic concerning the number of deputies present in the room. Arýnç noted that as long as the number of votes that come out of the ballots was adequate, according to the Constitution no other requirement would have to be met. Accordingly he said that the parliament speaker could start a session without even getting a headcount, unless at least 20 deputies objected and demanded a roll call.
If 20 deputies from the opposition were present in the room to object to not calling the list of deputies' names to check attendance, that already would entail that there are more than 367 deputies in the room, since the government party has 353 members. The parliament speaker also expressed that he thought in the case of an objection to the presidential voting, the Constitutional Court would decide in accordance with the by-laws of parliament and not annul the election.
In Turkey the president is elected for a single seven-year term by the 550-member Parliament, where the ruling AK Party currently holds a two-third majority that will allow it to easily elect the candidate of its choice. Opponents of Erdoðan assert he is a divisive figure with no true commitment to secular principles. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) describes the presidency as the "last stronghold" of secularism and accuses the AK Party of seeking to seize it to advance what it terms its "secret Islamist agenda." The influential military, the academic elite and the judiciary are also mistrustful of the government.
Reactions to Arýnç's remarks
In response to Arýnç's statement, former senior judge Kanadoðlu said "If the elected president was brought down from the [presidential home] Çankaya Palace, that would be what's 'grave'."
In a related development, the deputy head of the parliamentary group of the CHP, Haluk Koç, claimed that the AK Party would attempt to transfer deputies from other parties to ensure a majority of at least 367 seats. Koç also expressed his opinion that "Any attempt to force a president on the country without a consensus is tantamount to a civilian coup d'etat," speaking at a press conference in the Parliament building on Monday.
Koç said he hoped none of the deputies who are not members of the government party would take on the responsibility of playing a role in Erdoðan's accession to presidency.
In response to a question on Arýnç's assertion that the CHP had to have at least 20 people in the room to force a roll call, and thus causing the number of deputies present in the voting session to exceed 367, Koç said, "The 102nd article of the Constitution is very clear. The minimum requirement is 367 people. It is up to the parliament speaker whether to demand that number or not. The CHP will do what is necessary in the legal process after that, and the Constitutional Court will make a decision."
The process for Turkey to elect its 11th president will kick off in less than a week. The official process will begin on April 16, Monday, the first day for registration of presidential nominees. The political parties will have time until midnight on Wednesday, April 25, to announce their candidates, leaving 20 days for elections. Following the registration of nominees, the Parliament will announce the voting dates. If none of the candidates get at least two-thirds (367) of the vote in the first two rounds, a simple majority (267 votes) will be considered enough to vote in the next president in the third voting round. If none of the candidates can garner 267 votes in the third round, the elections will have to be restarted.
Turkey's first President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was voted in with 158 votes on Oct. 29, 1923, while the second president, Ýsmet Ýnönü, was elected with 348 votes. The third president, Celal Bayar, was elected by 387 votes of 453 parliamentarians. The fourth president, Cemal Gürsel, was chosen with 434 votes out of the 607 seats in Parliament at that time, however the elections were started again due to Gürsel's fading health. Cevdet Sunay, who served as Turkey's fifth president instead of the ailing Gürsel, was elected with 461 votes by a 532-member Parliament.
15th round of voting
Turkey's sixth president, Fahri Korutürk, was elected at the end of the 15th round, by getting 365 votes from 557 deputies. The seventh president, Kenan Evren, was not elected by the Parliament since he was the leader of a coup d'etat. The eighth president Turgut Özal was voted as the president by 263 of the 285 deputies present in the hall in the third round of presidential elections in 1989. The Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) and the True Path Party (DYP) abstained from voting, because they opposed Özal's presidency. Turkey's ninth president, Süleyman Demirel, was voted in on May. 16, 1993 by 244 votes out of 431 parliamentarians who voted, also in the third round. The current president Ahmet Necdet Sezer was voted with 330 votes out of 533 deputies present during the elections. Sezer's seven years in office are due to end on May 16, 2007.
Source: Today's Zaman
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16