ISTANBUL (TBEN) — Turkey’s president has announced May 14 as the date for the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who plans to seek re-election, made the announcement at a youth conference in the northwestern province of Bursa on Saturday. A video of the event was released on Sunday.
“I thank God that we are destined to share our path with you, our esteemed youth, who will vote for the first time in the elections to be held on May 14,” said Erdogan, who had referenced the date last week.
He said in Bursa that he would make the formal call on March 10, after which Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council would prepare for the elections.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a second round of voting will take place on 28 May.
Erdogan, who has been in office since 2003 – first as prime minister and as president since 2014 – faces his toughest election yet as Turkey’s troubled economy grapples with rising inflation.
A six-party opposition alliance has yet to put forward a presidential candidate. A pro-Kurdish party that is the third largest in parliament has so far been excluded from the alliance, saying it could field its own candidate.
Erdogan, 68, introduced a system of governance in 2018 that abolished the office of prime minister and concentrated most powers in the hands of the president. The office of president was largely a ceremonial position for that time. Under the new system, presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the same day.
The opposition has blamed Erdogan for Turkey’s economic downturn and the erosion of civil rights and freedoms, saying the revised system of government amounts to “one-man rule”. The presidential system was narrowly approved in a referendum in 2017 and also took effect after the 2018 elections.
This year’s election was due to take place in June, but members of the ruling party said that month would coincide with summer and religious holidays, prompting an earlier date.