May 6, 2015 / 8:44 AM / in 2 years

Turkish electoral body rejects Kurdish complaint against Erdogan

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a Peace Summit ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, in Istanbul April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s electoral commission has rejected a complaint from the Kurdish opposition that accused President Tayyip Erdogan of breaching the constitution with speeches backing the ruling AK Party ahead of a June election.

The decision is likely to anger Erdogan’s opponents who say institutions are unwilling to stand up to the president, who remains the country’s most popular politician.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had said Erdogan was acting against his constitutional neutrality as President by publicly praising the record of the AK Party -- which he co-founded -- while launching stinging attacks on its rivals.

The commission dismissed the complaint late on Tuesday, but said it would not publish the reasoning behind its decision for another week.

Erdogan is not a candidate in the June 7 poll. But he has said he wants the AK Party to raise the number of parliament seats it holds to 400 of 550 in June, comfortably giving it the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution and create the full presidential system he has long coveted.

He became Turkey’s first directly elected President last year with 52 percent of the vote, and has made little secret of his desire to wield far greater clout in a role previously seen as largely ceremonial.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has pursued a peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group to try to end a three-decade Kurdish insurgency in the southeast.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said last month it was time to end an armed struggle that has killed 40,000 people, but his conditions, including creation of a neutral monitoring group, have not yet been met.

Erdogan had hoped to count on Kurdish support for constitutional change to transform a largely ceremonial presidency into a strong executive position, in return offering greater Kurdish rights. But the HDP, which needs to meet a 10 percent threshold to enter parliament, has made clear it is not interested in any such deal.

Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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