Gül is the second president whose wife wears a headscarf after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. Gül was elected in the third round after receiving 339 votes out of 448 cast. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) nominee, Sabahattin Çakmakoğlu, received 70 votes while Democratic Left Party (DSP) candidate Tayfun İçli received 13. Twenty-four deputies cast empty ballots, while two votes were considered invalid.
Following his election Gül was sworn in at Parliament, thereby assuming the presidential post from the 10th president, A. Necdet Sezer, who had been acting president since May 10. In his acceptance speech President Gül offered his gratitude to members of Parliament who elected him and emphasized his commitment to the fundamental principles of the republic.
Gül stressed the need to trust the functioning of democracy. "The democratic system within which citizens elect their own representatives is a structure based on the universal principles of law where ways of legal recourse are open and fundamental rights and liberties can be thoroughly enjoyed both individually and collectively," he said. He also said Turkey should set becoming an open society as a priority for itself. "Becoming an open society is the bare minimum for the development of countries and the fulfillment of individuals," the newly elected president said, adding, "The freedoms of thought, expression, religion and conscience stipulated in our Constitution are, at the same time, the guarantee of a dignified life for our people."
He said fundamental freedoms were the most "vital values under all circumstances" and that change and diversity should be celebrated rather than feared. Gül also stated that ensuring complete gender equality and active participation of women in all fields of life should be a primary objective for Turkey. He expressed that "a prevailing sense of justice among citizens is one of the most important elements for ensuring sustainable economic development and continued social harmony."
In his first speech as the president, Gül also highlighted the importance of Turkey’s commitment to the EU.
The president vowed to work together with civil society organizations representing different sections of the country, saying: “While fulfilling this honorable duty that you have conferred upon me, I will always and under all circumstances ask for the support of this noble Parliament that reflects our nation and its will. My door will be open to all. I will be in close cooperation with all political parties and civil society organizations without bias.”
End of the presidential crisis
Gül’s election was one of the most troublesome processes in the history of the Turkish Republic. On April 27 Gül was nominated as the only candidate of the AK Party, but could not be elected with the support of 353 deputies because a two-thirds majority was needed. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) boycotted the first round of the presidential vote in April and appealed to the Constitutional Court, resulting in a controversial decision that ruled there were not enough legislators in Parliament to meet the quorum required for a presidential election. The presidential election process was blocked, precipitating the general elections of July 22.
Elected after waiting for 124 days, Gül broke a record by becoming the president with the longest election process. Fahri Korutürk, the sixth president of Turkey, was elected after 15 rounds in a process that lasted 24 days.
After securing an overwhelming victory in the July 22 elections, the AK Party had re-nominated Gül for the presidency, with the first round of the presidential vote held on Aug. 20. In the first round Gül had secured support from 340 AK Party deputies as well as that of Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu, but was short of the 367 threshold. In the second round, held on Aug. 24, Gül was supported by 337 deputies, again failing to make it to the Çankaya Presidential Palace. Under the Constitution, the support of 367 deputies is needed for election as president in the first two rounds, while a simple majority (276 deputies) is sufficient for election in the third round. Thus, having 341 seats in Parliament, the AK Party managed to ensure Gül’s election in the third round. In the first round, the MHP nominee Çakmakoğlu received 70 votes while DSP nominee İçli received 13 votes. In the second round, Çakmakoğlu and İçli received 71 and 14 votes, respectively.
All parties continued supporting their own candidates
The CHP boycotted the presidential election as it had done with the vote on April 27, later annulled by a Constitutional Court ruling stating there were less than 367 legislators present during the election -- a number the top court’s decision set as the quorum. However the MHP, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the DSP all joined the voting session this time, ensuring a quorum of 367. Still, none of these parties supported Gül. The MHP backed its own nominee as did the DSP. The DTP, which had stated it would only support Gül if the government promised to make an expression of a more open policy regarding the Kurdish problem, cast empty ballots as it had in the first two rounds. “Since the statements we expected to hear have not been forthcoming, we continue our attitude of the previous voting,” DTP leader Ahmet Türk explained.
Even before the end of the third round of the presidential election in which Gül was certain to get elected, Parliament turned into a festival with both domestic and international journalists as well as everyday Turkish citizens closely monitoring the election. “Gül has brought good luck to Ankara,” some deputies joked as the day of the election also brought the drought-stricken capital rainfall.
Gül officially assumed his duties as president at 6 p.m. after swearing in immediately following his election. After the oath-taking ceremony, Gül visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, where he paid a minute of respect to the country’s founding father. At 7:30 p.m. Gül went to the Çankaya Presidential Palace, where he took over the post from 10th President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
Home improvement at the palace
Outgoing President Sezer, who moved to his new house in the Gölbaşı district of the capital, prepared the Çankaya Palace for Gül and left him a comfortable environment in which to work. Repair and maintenance work at the palace was completed, costing a total of YTL 31,961. The expenditures included the renovation of a service building, repair of presidential vehicles, decorations and furniture.
The total expenses were four times more than usual, “with the aim of delivering the palace to its new owner in a clean and organized fashion.”
President Gül, whose election was widely accepted as certain prior to yesterday’s vote, arrived in Parliament along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The first person to congratulate Gül was visually challenged singer Metin Şentürk, who arrived in Parliament before the election.
An overjoyed Kayseri celebrates Abdullah Gül’s presidency
Tuesday evening all the avenues and streets in Abdullah Gül’s hometown of Kayseri were draped with flags and adorned with Gül’s photos in anticipation of celebrating his presidency. Preparations for the celebrations have been in full swing as the city center was decorated in red and white by the elated residents. Kayseri welcomed the election as president of their first local son with great joy, and the entire town was in a festival-like atmosphere. The Kayseri Municipality, the main organizer of the events, decorated the city center and the streets with flags the night before. Gül’s posters were also hung in the early hours of the morning. Merchants decorated their shops while fire crews circulated posters throughout the city. Gül’s presidency was welcomed by a 41-canon shot salute from the historic Kayseri Castle accompanied by a concert of the municipal band in the city center.
Presidential process concludes after 5 months
April 15: The 11th presidential process begins.
April 24: One day before the 10-day application for candidacy period ends, Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdoğan makes the expected announcement: “Abdullah Gül is our candidate.”
April 27: During the first round of voting, Speaker of Parliament Bülent Arınç announces there are 368 deputies present in the assembly hall. Gül receives 368 votes. The two-thirds majority isn’t achieved in the first round. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the True Path Party (DYP) and the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) don’t participate in the voting.
April 27: The CHP argues that at least 367 deputies must participate in the voting and goes to the Constitutional Court, claiming this number wasn’t reached.
May 1: The Constitutional Court approves the CHP’s petition for a decree of annulment and voids the presidential election’s first round by a majority of votes. May 1: Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies offer the parliament speaker a bill that allows the public to choose the president.
May 4: Parliament decides to hold a general election in accordance with the AK Party’s decision, and the Supreme Election Board (YSK) announces that the elections may take place as soon as June 22.
May 5: Following the Constitutional Court’s decision, the first round of the presidential election isn’t realized due to a lack of 367 deputies in the hall. Gül announces his withdrawal from the race.
June 22: The AK Party wins the election with 46.6 percent of the vote in the general elections. August 10: The presidential election process restarts.
August 15: Prime Minister Erdoğan announces Gül as the presidential candidate in the AK Party’s Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting.
August 20: The first round of the elections is held; Gül (AK Party), Sabahattin Çakmakoğlu from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Tayfun İçli from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) run for president. A total of 448 deputies are present during the vote in which Gül receives 341 votes.
August 24: Gül receives 337 votes in the second round of voting; 446 deputies participate. August 28: Gül wins the presidency with 339 votes.