Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set May 14 as the date for Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, almost a month before they were originally scheduled, in what many say will be the toughest election in his two-decade-long rule.
“May our decision be beneficial for our country, our nation, our parliament and our political parties,” Erdoğan said after putting his signature to a decision confirming the election date, which was then published in the Official Gazette.
Turkey’s election authority, the Supreme Election Board (YSK), will now determine the electoral calendar. A runoff presidential election will be held two weeks later if none of the candidates secures more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
In January Erdoğan suggested holding the elections on May 14 to avoid a conflict with university exams, school holidays and the Hajj pilgrimage. His suggestion was welcomed by the opposition.
Yet, when Turkey was hit by two devastating earthquakes last month, a debate was sparked about the possibility of postponing the elections.
However, Erdoğan said he would stick to his earlier suggestion and went ahead with it despite the fact that opinion surveys show his government losing public support due to its poor handling of the disaster.
Erdoğan asked the people affected by the earthquake to give him one year for reconstruction.
Earlier this week an opposition bloc of six parties nominated main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as their joint presidential candidate to compete against Erdoğan in the presidential election.
Many say this will be the most difficult election in Erdoğan’s political career due to declining public support stemming from his government’s failure in search and rescue and relief efforts following the earthquakes, high inflation and a worsening economy as well as the erosion of democracy in the country.