Turkey eyes early elections on May 14 after hint by President Erdogan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again hinted that elections will be brought forward to May from the originally scheduled June date, leaving the country’s political opposition with less than five months to name a contender.

“In 2023 we will achieve the path late Menderes opened on May 14, 1950, by saying ‘enough, the people have the say,’” Erdogan said during the speech. Turkey’s former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was toppled in a 1960 military coup before being executed, is often cited by Erdogan as an inspiration. The president’s comments were interpreted as teasing a new date for the elections.

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Last week, Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for almost two decades and faces an election battle amid a cost-of-living crisis, also indicated the possibility of elections being held before June. “We have five months, no stop for five months, he said.

A similar date was brought up by the opposition following Erdogan’s remarks on Saturday. “It seems that the election will be held on May 14,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said during a TV interview. Turkey’s opposition alliance has yet to announce a joint candidate, however Kilicdaroglu has suggested several times that he is willing to be run in the elections.

Erdogan has not publicly said why he might want the elections to be held early. Just a year ago, his political fortunes looked to be diminishing, but the war in Ukraine, government aid for households and small businesses and an opposition in disarray have bolstered his grip on power.

The president needs to win more than 50 percent of the vote for a first-round presidential victory, to avoid a second-round run-off two weeks later.

The May 14 date would avoid the Eid break and school holidays, making it more likely that there would be a high turnout.

Read more: Eyeing elections, Turkey’s Erdogan plays up diplomatic gains

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