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Erdoğan aide hints at May 14 for elections as Turkey debates practicalities amid earthquake recovery

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A top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said the presidential and parliamentary elections would likely be held on May 14 as previously announced by the president, admitting, however, that there are technical problems with conducting the vote in the earthquake-stricken areas.

Erdoğan’s foreign policy adviser and presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın commented to CNN International’s Becky Anderson on relief efforts following the 7.8 and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes that struck southern Turkey on Feb. 6, killing more than 43,000 people.

Elections were originally scheduled to take place in June, five years after the 2018 elections, and prior to the earthquakes President Erdoğan had expressed his intention to hold the elections on May 14.

However, rumors of a postponement emerged after Erdoğan said he wanted to complete reconstruction work in the earthquake-stricken region within a year.

When asked about the elections, Kalın said parliament would have to decide when to hold the elections and that the president could not make this decision alone.

However, Kalın said that at the end of the day, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) would decide whether elections can actually be conducted in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquakes.

Kalın said more than 2 million people have left the earthquake zone and that there are technical problems on how they will vote from their new locations.

According to Kalın, however, it is likely that the elections will be held in May as announced “unless there is a political consensus to the contrary in the coming days.”

During a TV broadcast on Friday opposition Good (İYİ), Party leader Meral Akşener, stated that the elections can’t be postponed and will be held no later than June 18.

Akşener pointed out that information received by her party members from within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) indicates that the election will be held on May 14.

According to a report on the Habertürk news website, citing sources in the AKP, Erdoğan wants to set May 14 as the election date, while his party is focusing on the technical details of how to do so in light of the large number of internally displaced persons in the country following the earthquakes.

The Habertürk report says the AKP plans to campaign on the promise of a quick recovery from the disaster.

According to a report by the pro-government broadcaster A Haber, the elections will be held on May 14. People from the earthquake-stricken region who have moved to other cities can vote in the parliamentary elections only if they provide the address of their current residence. However, these people can vote for president even if they are not registered at their home address.

Erdoğan is seeking re-election, but an opposition bloc of six political parties, including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has not yet announced its candidate.

In January, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said opposition parties would announce their presidential candidate on Feb. 13.

However, after the devastating earthquakes, the opposition postponed the announcement of a candidate.

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