Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has today officially announced in a televised speech in Ankara the election decision, setting parliamentary and presidential elections for May 14th, 2023, a month early and just three months after earthquakes that left millions homeless across southern Turkey. In these elections, the Turkish nation will choose not only the president but also all 600 members of the parliament.
Erdoğan said the elections had been brought forward because the originally planned date of June 18th date clashed with university exams, summer holidays and travel to the Hajj pilgrimage.
The vote will be Erdoğan's biggest in his 20 years in power, and will decide not only who leads Turkey but how it is governed, where its economy is headed and what role it may play in easing conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.
On Monday March 6th, the six-party main opposition alliance named Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), as its candidate to challenge Erdoğan for the presidency.
Erdoğan said his campaign would focus on recovery after the earthquakes and would not use any music. He also said that all parliamentary candidates from his AK Party will have to make a "generous" donation to the earthquake fund of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
A decree published in the Official Gazette said survivors of the earthquakes would retain their voting rights if they had moved, meaning they will be able to vote in the cities where they currently reside. Close to 50,000 people had died in the earthquakes in Turkey and it is estimated that some 3 million people have been displaced.
Polls suggest that both the presidential and parliamentary votes will be tight, with the opposition bloc running slightly ahead of the governing alliance.