ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s election board on Friday rejected accusations that President Tayyip Erdogan violated the constitution by publicly backing the ruling AK party ahead of June polls, though two members opposed the ruling in a rare sign of dissent.
Erdogan declared at a gathering of supporters ahead of the election that no complaints, wherever they might be submitted, would silence him.
Opposition parties including the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party filed accusations this month with the Supreme Election Board (YSK) that Erdogan had failed in his obligation as president to stay above party politics.
The YSK said in a statement the president’s remarks could not be seen in such a context. It noted the dissent of two of its 11 members:
“(The) President is making propaganda speeches, statements and criticisms aimed directly at certain parties and people regarding the parliamentary general elections, intending to alter the results of the elections,” the dissenters wrote.
In the run up to June 7 parliamentary elections, Erdogan has used his daily rallies to lobby for an executive presidential system that would give him broader powers. He has also extolled the record of the ruling AK Party that he founded.
Erdogan, who served as Prime Minister for over a decade, has said he is “equally close” to all parties, although one is closest to his heart.
At a rally in the central Anatolian city of Kirikkale on Friday he said such complaints would not stop him speaking.
“Some (parties) are applying to the YSK. It doesn’t matter where you apply, you cannot take me away from rallies, you cannot silence me,” he said.
Erdogan remains Turkey’s most popular political figure and has maintained influence over daily affairs, in what his opponents say is an increasingly authoritarian rule marked by campaigns to shake off curbs on his powers.
He is hoping for a sweeping majority for the AK Party at the polls, which would give it enough votes to push through a constitutional change and create the powerful executive presidency he seeks.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay; editing by David Dolan and Ralph Boulton