Demirtaş hits back at Erdoğan with diploma requirement

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Selahattin Demirtaş

Jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş on Thursday hit back at Turkish president and presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had called on election authorities to cancel Demirtaş’s candidacy, by bringing up a requirement that presidents must possess a university diploma, something Erdoğan has never produced.

Erdoğan during a rally in Trabzon on Wednesday said the requirements for standing as a candidate in presidential elections should be changed, in reference to jailed presidential nominee Demirtaş.

“Why can [Demirtaş be a candidate]? [Because] the guy in Edirne was not convicted but is a detainee,” Erdoğan said.

“I agree with you [Erdoğan] this time. For example, you have to have a university diploma to become presidential candidate, but to date no one has seen your diploma,” Demirtaş tweeted.

“I have fulfilled the requirement. You have not,” added Demirtaş.

There has been an ongoing debate since Erdoğan’s election in 2014 as to his completion or not of university since the Office of the President has provided no satisfactory documentation of his graduation.

Despite several calls for Erdoğan to produce an original copy of his four-year college degree to prove that he qualifies to be president, no evidence has been forthcoming proving the completion of studies.

It has been argued that the diploma query system of Marmara University, the college Erdoğan attended, was shut down by a court verdict dated July 18, 2014.

Despite challenges for Erdoğan to introduce his college classmates, there have not been any, while Erdoğan often refers to his high-school classmates.

In a criticized move ahead of snap elections on June 24, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) on April 30 eliminated an obligation requiring candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections to provide a copy of their diploma indicating the level of education completed.

Earlier, presidential and parliamentary candidates were required to provide a copy of their diploma, approved by a notary public or officials of a political party, to the YSK to be able to run in elections.

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