Election complaint against Turkey’s Erdogan dismissed

Regulator rules president did not breach impartiality restrictions

Turkey’s election regulator has rejected opposition claims that President Recep Tayyip Erdoganbreached electoral rules on presidential impartiality.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had lodged a complaint that Erdogan, one of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), had broken restrictions that forbid the president from becoming involved in party politics.

On Tuesday, within hours of the complaint being brought, the 11-strong Supreme Election Board issued a ruling dismissing the complaint unanimously.

In the run up to the June 7 parliamentary election, Erdogan has been giving speeches at opening ceremonies across Turkey. He has often used these speeches to promote the presidential system that he wants to introduce and which is opposed by the main opposition parties.

In doing so, Erdogan, who served as prime minister for the maximum three terms before becoming president in August last year after he won Turkey’s first popular vote for the post, has mentioned the number of parliamentary seats the AKP needs to secure such a constitutional change.

The HDP claimed Erdogan was acting “against his constitutional impartiality” and “as if he were the leader of the ruling party.” It called for the election board to issue a warning to Erdogan over his comments.

The party also claimed that Erdogan was deliberately targeting opposition leaders and using religious symbols in an “exploitative” manner.

The HDP, whose co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas won 9.76 percent of the vote in August’s presidential election, could enter parliament as the fourth largest party.

It needs to pass a 10 percent national threshold to be eligible to win seats and if successful could dent the AKP’s dominance of Turkey’s southeast, home to most of the country’s Kurdish population.

In April, seven nationwide polls put the HDP’s share of the vote at 8.9 to 11.4 percent.