ANKARA: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday announced that elections will be held on May 14, a month earlier than scheduled, according to a video shared by his office Sunday.
Erdogan, who plans to seek re-election, made the announcement during a Saturday youth conference in northwestern Bursa province. A video of the event was released on Sunday. “I thank God that we are destined to share our path with you, our valued youth, who will vote for the first time in the elections that will be held on May 14,” said Erdogan.
“This is not an early election but bringing it forward,” Erdogan said in a video from his meeting with young people in Bursa, shared by the presidency.
Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held on June 18 but President Erdogan previously signalled that the vote could be brought forward, reported Khaleej Times.
An official of his AK Party has previously said that an election in June would coincide with the summer holiday season when people travel.
This year’s elections were supposed to take place in June. Still, ruling party members said that month would coincide with summer and religious holidays, prompting an earlier date, reported The Washington Post.
If no candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the vote, a second round of voting would be held on May 28, reported The Washington Post.
Erdogan has been in office since 2003 — first as prime minister and as president since 2014.
This will be the most challenging election for the Turkish strongman who has been in power for two decades shaping the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country’s politics.
Opinion polls show the parliamentary and presidential elections will be tight and will mark Erdogan’s biggest test in his two decades at the reins of the regional military power, NATO member and major emerging market economy, reported Khaleej Times.
The May 14 election date was also supported by the opposition alliance still arguing over the choice of a united candidate against the 68-year-old leader.
A six-party opposition alliance has yet to put forth a presidential candidate. A pro-Kurdish party that is the third-largest in parliament has so far been excluded from the alliance and said it might field its own candidate, reported The Washington Post.
Erdogan, 68, introduced a system of governance in 2018 that abolished the office of the prime minister and concentrated most powers in the hands of the president. The office of the president was primarily a ceremonial post before then. Under the new system, presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the same day.
The opposition has blamed Turkey’s economic downturn and an erosion of civil rights and freedoms on Erdogan, saying the revised government system amounts to “one-man rule.”
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