Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. who is seeking to extend his two-decades in power, on Friday formally set the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections for May 14 — a month earlier than scheduled despite last month’s devastating earthquake.
The elections could be the country’s most significant vote in decades. It will determine whether the country will take a more democratic path or continue on the increasingly authoritarian course set by the strongman politician, The Associated Press said.
Erdogan has ruled over Türkiye since 2003 — first as prime minister and as president since 2014 — but this year’s elections could be his most challenging.
The country is struggling with a troubled economy, soaring inflation and the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that killed more than 46,000 people and left hundreds of thousands of people across 11 Turkish provinces sheltering in tents or temporary accommodation.
Many have criticized his government’s response to the earthquake and accuse it of failing to prepare the earthquake-prone country for a disaster in waiting.
Experts have pointed at lax enforcement of building codes as a major reason why the earthquake was so deadly.
Earlier this week, Türkiye’s disparate opposition parties, including nationalists, Islamists and conservatives, ended months of uncertainty that had frustrated supporters of the anti-Erdogan bloc and nominated a joint candidate to run against Erdogan.
The six opposition parties, which have pledged to roll back the erosion of rights and freedoms, united behind Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the 74-year-old leader of the center-left, secularist Republican People’s Party, or CHP.