It represents a coup against the Constitution that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not yet resigned from the post of prime minister despite having been officially announced as president-elect, analysts and members of the opposition have said.
“This is a coup inflicted upon the law. [Erdoğan] is legally not prime minister at the moment,” said Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesman Haluk Koç during a press conference on Sunday.
The Supreme Election Board (YSK) announced on Friday the official results of the presidential election held on Aug. 10, stating that Erdoğan won with 51.79 percent of the vote.
Noting that since he was officially announced as president-elect, Erdoğan can no longer act as a prime minister, party leader or a deputy, Koç stated: “All acts he performs are legally baseless. This is a violation of the current Constitution. Let it be noted that this constitutes a crime.”
The Constitution requires that a person resign from his or her post and sever ties with any political party upon being elected president. President-elects also lose the status of deputy as per the Constitution. But President-elect Erdoğan will seemingly not resign from his post until he takes over presidency on Aug. 28, so as not to lose the legal immunity that he enjoys as a deputy — as he has been haunted by a corruption probe.
“All acts that Erdoğan carries out as prime minister after Aug. 15 may well be canceled,” Ergun Özbudun, a professor of constitutional law at İstanbul Şehir University, told Today’s Zaman, drawing attention to the illegal nature of Erdoğan’s acts after being officially declared the winner in the presidential election.
YSK Chairman Sadi Güven declined, however, to comment on the issue, saying the Constitution states that the YSK is authorized on electoral matters only until the election process is completed. “The Constitution gives us no power in regards to post-election period,” he told reporters on Friday.
The same day, Güven handed over Erdoğan’s presidential mandate to Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who will pass it to the president-elect.
“In my opinion, the election process is complete with the YSK having announced the official results of the election,” underlined Özbudun, adding, “Erdoğan’s term as prime minister is over.”
According to Özbudun, the YSK’s announcement of the official election results and the handing over of the presidential mandate to the Parliament speaker are enough for the official completion of the presidential election process, when, as per the Constitution, a president-elect is required to be stripped of his or her political titles and affiliations.
“If he [Erdoğan] does not resign from the post of prime ministry, that would mean a suspension of the Constitution, and that the country would go through an interim regime until Aug. 28,” İbrahim Kaboğlu, a professor of constitutional law at Marmara University, told BBC Turkish last week.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President-elect Erdoğan have announced that he will continue to serve as prime minister until Aug. 28, when the term of current President Abdullah Gül ends, and that Erdoğan would receive his certificate of election.
Kaboğlu said: “Based on Article No. 101 and Article No. 102 of the Constitution and Article 20 of the Presidential Election Law, the YSK’s announcement of the official election results represents the moment when a [presidential] candidate is definitively declared winner. As of this [announcement], [Erdoğan’s] status as prime minister ends and his relations with his party are cut off. The date in this case is Aug. 15.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Atilla Kart posted a Twitter message on Sunday maintaining that there has been no valid government in Turkey since Aug. 16. “All acts carried out by the instruction of the government [after Aug. 15] represent illegal instructions. … Those who carry out illegal instructions will be personally responsible,” Kart said.
According to Zafer Üskül, a professor of constitutional law who formerly served as an AK Party deputy, Erdoğan can no longer serve as prime minister because his presidential mandate was presented to the Parliament speaker, designating him as a president-elect. “As Tayyip Erdoğan’s status of deputy is over, he can’t serve as prime minister,” Üskül told the Taraf daily on Sunday.
As per the Constitution, anyone who is not a deputy cannot serve as prime minister. The way to overcome this problem, according to Üskül, would be for either Erdoğan or Gül to appoint an acting prime minister.
A new government also needs to be formed, as Erdoğan’s resignation as prime minister — which he has not done yet even though it is legally required — would also mean the end of the government.
Üskül, who noted that there is legally no head of the government at the moment, as Erdoğan was officially announced as president-elect, said: “An acting prime minister should be appointed until a [new] government is formed in line with the law.”
Çiçek said on Friday that Parliament would convene for an extraordinary session on Aug. 28, the day when President-elect Erdoğan will officially take over presidency.
According to Erdoğan Teziç, a professor of constitutional law, Erdoğan was automatically stripped, of his posts of prime minister and deputy when he was officially announced president-elect, as per the Constitution.
In a statement to the Cumhuriyet daily last week, Teziç said: “Erdoğan’s term as prime minister and deputy should have been considered as over the moment the YSK decision was published in the Official Gazette.”
Özbudun affirmed the same idea, saying: “In my opinion, there is no need for the YSK’s announcement to be published in the Official Gazette [in order for it] to be valid. The final result has been announced to the public by the YSK.”
But Teziç believes the YSK’s official announcement of the election result is enough for Erdoğan to be automatically stripped of his post as prime minister and deputy. “There is no need for a resignation, because the issue was completed and done with when the YSK announced its decision. After the official results were announced, he [Erdoğan] cannot be part of activities such as attending party congresses and forming a [new] cabinet. If Erdoğan has his signature on any decisions made at such meetings, those decisions would not be legally valid.”
It is widely speculated that Erdoğan hopes to personally choose the person who will serve as prime minister before he takes over presidency instead of letting current President Gül do it. The ruling AK Party announced at the beginning of the week that the AK Party’s extraordinary congress would convene on Aug. 27 to elect a new leader who will also be tasked to form the government. Many say Erdoğan does not want Gül to seize control of the party if he returns, as he has said, to the AK Party.