ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey’s top court ruled Friday that President Abdullah Gul can finish his seven-year term in office, then stand for reelection.
In 2007, Parliament elected Gul for a one-time term as president, but a few months later Turkey enacted constitutional changes that allowed the election of presidents in popular votes for a five-year term.
Friday’s ruling could have wider political implications because it comes at a time when a debate is underway in Turkey about whether it should switch to a system where the president, not the prime minister, is the top elected official.
The Constitutional Court said Friday that Gul, 61, can stand for reelection in 2014. The president cannot serve more than twice.
Currently, the Turkish presidency has some veto authority but is largely removed from daily politics.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won a third, four-year term in 2011, says the country should shift to a presidential system, despite worry by some Turks that Erdogan, 58, would seek the post and continue in power.
A presidential system could, in theory, contribute to democracy by dispersing power in Turkey, where the prime minister commands the unswerving loyalty of hand-picked legislators and the administration oversees the budget.
Some commentators fear Erdogan would balk at the checks and balances of a US-style presidency, fashioning instead a system closer to the model in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez has broad powers.