Erdoğan hints at being Public Alliance’s presidential candidate for 2023 elections

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the Public Alliance, which includes his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has determined its presidential candidate and is moving forward with him, without openly stating that he’s the candidate, local media reported on Saturday.

The president spoke to the press after his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, saying the Public Alliance’s presidential candidate had been determined, amid claims that Erdoğan is not legally eligible to run in the 2023 presidential election because he already served two terms and cannot run for a third.

“Let me just say this; it’s not our problem who this group of six [opposition parties] will determine as their candidate. Right now, the Public Alliance has selected its candidate, and the Public Alliance is moving forward with this candidate,” Erdoğan told reporters.

The president was referring to an opposition bloc of six parties that pledged in late February to bring back parliamentary democracy to the country and scrap the executive presidential system introduced by Erdoğan after a referendum in 2017 should they unseat him in elections scheduled for June 2023.

The opposition blames Erdoğan’s one-man rule for Turkey’s woes, including an economic downturn and an erosion of rights and freedoms.

The leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Felicity Party (SP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) had signed a declaration confirming their resolve to introduce a “strengthened parliamentary system” if they manage to unseat Erdoğan.

Erdoğan was first elected president for a five-year renewable term in 2014 by a direct vote under the parliamentary system. Turkey switched to a 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.

Many, including CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, have claimed Erdoğan is not legally eligible to run in the 2023 presidential election because he already served two terms and cannot run for a third.

“If the election is held as scheduled, Erdoğan can’t run for president for a third time. If parliament calls an early election, there will be no obstacle to Erdoğan’s candidacy for a third time,” Kılıçdaroğlu had previously said.

Commenting on the claims, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said there was no legal obstacle standing in the way of Erdoğan’s candidacy, adding that if there was a need for a constitutional amendment to change the election of the president to three renewable terms, his party and the AKP would do their best to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s job approval rating dropped by 1.2 points to 42.1 percent within the past month, the results of MetroPoll’s “The Pulse of Turkey” survey for April, which were announced by the pollster on social media, revealed on Saturday.

According to the April survey, 53.6 of respondents answered “No, I do not approve” to the question “Do you approve of the way Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is handling his job as president?”, a 3.3 point increase compared to March.

Those who don’t approve of the way Erdoğan is handling his job included 5.2 percent of voters of his ruling AKP and 7.7 percent of MHP supporters.

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