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Babacan says will run for presidency in the absence of joint opposition candidate

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Ali Babacan, leader of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), has announced that he will run for president in 2023 if an alliance of Turkish opposition parties fails to field a joint candidate, Turkish media reported.

Babacan, who is also a former Justice and Development Party (AKP) heavyweight, spoke to reporters following a party rally in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep on Monday.

He said the leader of every opposition party that is a member of a six-party opposition bloc is a potential candidate for the presidency, but if the opposition alliance fails to nominate a joint presidential candidate, he will run as a presidential candidate and not for parliamentary membership in 2023, when Turkey will hold both parliamentary and presidential elections.

An opposition bloc of six parties pledged in late February to return the country to a parliamentary democracy and scrap the executive presidential system introduced by current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a referendum in 2017 should they unseat him in the 2023 elections.

The leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Felicity Party (SP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and DEVA had signed a declaration confirming their resolve to introduce a “strengthened parliamentary system” if they manage to unseat Erdoğan.

The opposition blames Erdoğan’s one-man rule for Turkey’s woes, including an economic downturn and an erosion of rights and freedoms.

The opposition bloc has not yet named a presidential candidate.

Erdoğan was first elected president for a seven-year non-renewable term in 2014 by a direct vote under the parliamentary system. Turkey switched to a presidential system of governance with a referendum in 2017 and held snap presidential and parliamentary polls in 2018, when Erdoğan was elected president again. Under the presidential system, a person can be elected president for a five-year renewable term if the election is held as scheduled.

Erdoğan is expected to be the presidential candidate of the Public Alliance, which includes his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), for the 2023 election.

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