The President of Turkey has announced May 14 as the date for the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who plans to run for re-election, made the announcement during 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 precious youth, who will vote for the first time in the May 14 elections,” said Erdogan, who pointed to the date last week.
He said in Bursa that he would make an official call on March 10, after which Turkey’s Supreme Election Council would prepare for the elections.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, there will be a second round of voting on May 28.
Erdogan, in office since 2003 – first as prime minister and president since 2014 – faces his toughest election yet as Turkey’s troubled economy struggles with soaring inflation.
The six-party opposition alliance has not yet nominated a presidential candidate. A pro-Kurdish party, the third-largest party in parliament, has so far been excluded from the coalition and told it could field its own candidate.
Erdogan, 68, introduced a system of government in 2018 that abolished the post of prime minister and concentrated most powers in the hands of the president. Earlier, the office of President was largely a ceremonial position. Under the new system, presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the same day.
The opposition has blamed Erdogan for Turkey’s economic woes and a decline in civil rights and liberties, saying the revised system of government amounts to “one-man rule”. The presidential system was easily approved in the 2017 referendum and will remain in effect after the 2018 elections.
Elections this year were due to be held in June, but members of the ruling party said the month would coincide with summer and religious holidays, leading to an earlier date.