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Opposition’s presidential candidate likely to be announced in February: official

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An official from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has announced that an opposition bloc of parties which includes the CHP is likely to announce its presidential candidate in February, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

All eyes are now on the “Table of Six,” a bloc comprising six opposition parties, to announce its presidential candidate for this year’s presidential election.

“The name of the presidential candidate will probably be declared sometime in February,” Ünal Çeviköz, an advisor to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, told reporters on Friday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who is seeking re-election, announced this week that the parliamentary and presidential elections could be held on May 14, a month before the scheduled time.

The opposition bloc, also known as the Nation Alliance, has yet to agree on a candidate who will challenge Erdoğan and try to end his 20-year rule.

The bloc, which includes four smaller parties in addition to the CHP and the center-right İYİ Party, is promising to switch back to a parliamentary system from the current presidential system of governance if they come to power.

Çeviköz said leaders of the six opposition parties would reveal on Jan. 30 in two documents their proposals for a transitional period to a parliamentary system and their government program.

Erdoğan enters the election with his approval ratings bruised by a year-long economic crisis that saw inflation reach 85 percent late last year.

But the fractured opposition has still not united around a single candidate after more than a year of heated talks.

Their best hope at one stage appeared to be İstanbul’s popular mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.

The telegenic 52-year-old beat Erdoğan’s ally in the landmark 2019 municipal election in which the opposition was also swept to power in the capital city of Ankara and Turkey’s third-largest city, İzmir.

But a criminal court last month banned İmamoğlu from politics for calling officials who annulled his initial 2019 victory “idiots.”

İmamoğlu has appealed and can still technically run for president.

But if he won and his conviction of slander was eventually upheld, he would have to step down from office, making his candidacy too risky for the opposition.

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu now appears like the most likely candidate to stand against Erdoğan.

But the 74-year-old former civil servant’s failure to light up opinion polls have caused divisions within the six opposition parties allied against Erdoğan.

The six have promised to finally agree on a single candidate once Erdoğan sets the election date.

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