Republican People's Party (CHP) Vice-Chairman Gürsel Tekin said the party members were told by party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, to refrain from criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he was elected as president in August. Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Tekin responded to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's precondition of a coalition deal not to make the office of presidency a subject of debate.
"Mr. Davutoğlu says, we will not let Mr. President become a matter of debate. That's what we exactly said," Tekin said and continued: "our chairman ordered us to refrain from even the slightest negative discourse that is aimed at the president. [Kılıçdaroğlu] said that's the rank of presidency." Tekin added that they complied with the order of the CHP leader.
Since the coalition talks began behind closed doors, Erdoğan's presidency has been a question of debate among the opposition parties, which stipulated his remaining within the confines of the Constitution as a precondition to a coalition deal. The issue was announced among the 14 conditions presented by Kılıçdaroğlu, a term which is believed to drag the coalition talks into a deadlock during the second round unless the CHP gives up on it. The AK Party claims that President Erdoğan does nothing that conflicts with the constitution, and has made it clear that his presidency should not be questioned if a deal is to be made. Having no red lines, the AK Party is sensitive about the presidency of Erdoğan, and demands parties refrain from disputes regarding the issue.