Erdogan Party in Discord for 1st Time Since 2003, Milliyet Says

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party is in disagreement on how to deal with a veto of draft legislation by President Abdullah Gul, signaling political divisions for the first time since 2003, Milliyet reported.

The president’s rejection of a law reducing penalties for match-fixing in competitive sports created three groups in the Justice and Development Party, or Ak Parti, according to the Istanbul-based newspaper. The last time Erdogan’s party disagreed on a policy issue was in March 2003, when lawmakers rejected a measure championed by Gul, then the prime minister, to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq from Turkey.

The discord comes as Erdogan recuperates at his home in Istanbul from Nov. 26 surgery on his digestive tract. Erdogan, who was expected to lead a Dec. 5 cabinet meeting in Ankara, extended his rest for a second week today, canceling a trip to Qatar to attend a Dec. 11-13 conference.

Since the Dec. 2 veto, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and lawmaker Samil Tayyar have publicly supported Gul, Milliyet said. A second group within the party, including deputy chairman Huseyin Celik, favors renegotiating punishments outlined in the draft law. A third group, including the party’s parliamentary deputy chiefs Nurettin Canikli and Mustafa Elitas, say the legislation should be sent back to the president unchanged, according to Milliyet.

More than half of the Ak Parti’s 326 members in the 550- seat Ankara parliament skipped the original vote on the law, Milliyet reported. At least 150 of those lawmakers aren’t keen on the legislation or on revisiting the bill, it said.

Soccer officials including the head of Fenerbahce, the team Erdogan supports, are being held in custody pending trial on charges of match-fixing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emre Peker in Ankara at epeker2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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