Turkey’s election board no longer requires presidential candidates to provide a copy of diploma

Turkey’s Higher Board of Election (YSK) has eliminated an obligation that required candidates of presidential and parliamentary elections to provide a copy of their diploma showing their education level. The YSK’s decision was published in the Official Gazette on Monday.

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

The YSK’s move has rekindled debates about whether current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a valid university degree. Erdoğan is the presidential candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the presidential election to be held on June 24.

Meanwhile, the leader of a small Turkish pro-Alevi party, who previously alleged that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not have a university degree, has filed a case on the issue with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), critical Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

The ECtHR will be examining the case filed by Universal Way Party Chairman Metin Güler, the newspaper said. Güler caused a stir in 2014 when he first said Erdoğan, who was standing as a presidential candidate at the time, did not have a university diploma.

According to the Turkish president’s official biography, Erdoğan graduated from Marmara University’s Economic and Commercial Sciences Faculty in 1981. While the university’s web site does not give any information about whether such a faculty ever existed, it says the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences was established in 1982.

A university degree is a prerequisite for presidential office in Turkey. 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 allegedly 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.


Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will announce their candidates on Friday for the June 24 snap presidential election.

CHP spokesperson Bülent Tezcan on Tuesday said the party’s presidential candidate would be announced at 10:00 a.m. on Friday at Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Gym in Ankara.

Sezai Temelli, co-chairperson of the HDP, also stated on Monday in Diyarbakır that the party would announce the name of its presidential candidate on May 4. Temelli also underlined that former co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been held in Edirne Prison since November 2016, has emerged as the frontrunner among potential candidates.

The Felicity Party (SP) announced on Tuesday that the party’s chairman, Temel Karamollaoğlu, would be its presidential candidate in the election on June 24.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara after the announcement of his presidential bid, Karamollaoğlu said if his party comes to power in the June 24 elections, his first job will be to eliminate an ongoing state of emergency in the country, which was declared in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The recently established İYİ Party named the party’s chairwoman, Meral Akşener, to represent it in the election.

A move by Karamollaoğlu to put forward former President Abdullah Gül failed last week. Gül on Saturday said he would not challenge President Erdoğan in the snap presidential election, underlining that his decision was due to a lack of consensus between opposition parties.

“I said I would not turn down the responsibility if a general consensus were reached. I appreciate Mr. Temel’s efforts. It seems there is not such a general demand after all. I will not be a candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Turkish media reported that President Erdoğan on Thursday sent Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Erdoğan advisor İbrahim Kalın to talk to Gül in an effort to prevent his candidacy.

CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Sunday criticized Akar’s visit to Gül to talk about his possible run against Erdoğan, calling it “tutelage.”

A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) issued a statement on Tuesday on the country’s chief of military staff visiting a former president to dissuade him from standing against current President Erdoğan, an event he refused to confirm had happened.

At a meeting with journalists at the parliament, Bülent Turan was quoted by opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper as saying that society had made peace with the issue, whether or not it had happened.

“I don’t know whether our chief of staff talked to him or not, but if a leader is not going to be a candidate because he spoke to the chief of staff, he should never have been a candidate at all,” he said. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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