Application Process for Next Turkish President Kicks off
The application process for the Turkish presidential polls in May opened Sunday amid a search for a compromise candidate who can generate support not only from the three ruling parties but also from the opposition.
Applications can be submitted until April 25 and the polls will be held at a still undetermined date before May 16 when the mandate of 75-year-old incumbent President Suleyman Demirel runs out.
A smooth presidential election is widely seen as a determining factor for the future of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's three-way coalition since under Turkish law parliament is automatically dissolved for a by-election if it fails to elect a president in a four-round vote.
Ecevit, the head of the centrist Democratic Left Party, is now shuttling between his two partners -- Devlet Bahceli of the far-right National Action Party and Mesut Yilmaz of the center-right Motherland Party -- and the two opposition leaders in a bid to hammer out a parliamentary compromise on a common candidate.
"Starting from Sunday names will begin to emerge," Ecevit said Saturday after meetings with the opposition leaders, his government partners and the chief of Turkey's powerful army.
"The candidates will be determined in a process of gradual elimination," he added.
Ecevit suffered a severe blow earlier this month when parliament rejected a draft bill designed to give Demirel the opportunity of standing for re-election when his single seven-year term ends.
Ecevit led the campaign for Demirel, fearing that a divisive battle among rival candidates from his three-way coalition could damage the government.
Presidents are elected by parliament from among parliamentary members, must be aged at least 40 and have a university degree.
A non-parliamentary candidate can run in the polls if his candidature is supported by at least 110 deputies in the 550-seat house.
As the search for a compromise candidate continued, no clout-wielding bidder emerged Sunday to submit an application to parliament.
The only applicant was Mehmet Mail Buyukerman, a 72-year-old deputy from Ecevit's party, who has neither popularity nor clout.
Buyukerman said he did not ask for Ecevit's approval for his bid, adding that he wanted "to utilize his constitutional rights," according to the Anatolia news agency -- ANKARA (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)