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Turkey's highest court meets to decide on opposition appeal to cancel presidential vote

Turkey's highest court meets to decide on opposition appeal to cancel presidential vote

Turkey's highest court hoped to decide on Tuesday on an appeal by the main opposition party to cancel last week's disputed presidential vote, while the ruling party was considering declaring early general elections.
The Constitutional Court's decision is crucial for the future of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, which is at odds with the country's secular establishment over fears it might be trying increase the influence of Islam in public life.
On Sunday, at least 700,000 protesters marched in Istanbul to demand the government's resignation. The country's influential association of Turkish industrialists and businessmen, TUSIAD, urged the government to declare immediate early general elections.
Tulay Tugcu, the court's chief justice, said the court would try to issue a verdict on Tuesday.
If the court rejects the opposition appeal, then parliament will proceed with the next round of the presidential election on Wednesday, possibly increasing the likelihood of further confrontation between the fiercely secular military and the government.
The ruling party's candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, failed to win a first-round victory Friday in a parliamentary presidential vote marked by tension between secularists and the pro-Islamic government. Most opposition legislators boycotted the vote and challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court.
Due to the ruling party's majority in parliament, Gul is guaranteed to be elected, at the latest in the third round on May 9. Some secularists object to his candidacy because his wife covers her head with a head scarf and is therefore seen as potentially allowing more Islamic influence on the state.
On Friday, the military said it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the presidential election process _ a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives.
Members of the ruling party said Tuesday that party officials were considering calling early general elections after the court ruling. If the verdict is in favor of the opposition party and cancels Friday's first round presidential vote, the government could quickly declare early general elections for late June or early July, party officials said.
Analysts say that a call for early elections could ease political tension and market concern.
"Early general elections seems to be only way out of this business," said Saruhan Dogan, a market analyst with Finansbank. "The ruling party has become a party which is straining social balances."
The opposition Republican People's Party, which boycotted parliament's first round of voting, has argued that were not enough lawmakers present to establish a quorum during Friday's vote and that the result should be canceled.
"Turkey would be dragged toward a dangerous clash" if the Constitutional Court rules that the vote was in fact valid, said Deniz Baykal, chairman of the opposition party.
Erdogan on Monday appealed for stability and drew attention to his strong economic record in a national address.
But the Turkish stock market continued its slide Tuesday. The benchmark index, the IMKB-100, fell by 3.2 percent to close at 43,529.49 points. The index had sunk 6.3 percent on Monday as the government came under pressure to declare early general elections.
"Turkey is a poorer country compared to Friday," said State Minister Ali Babacan, in charge of economy.


Updated : 2021-04-14 19:56 GMT+08:00