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Turkey to Hold Elections on May 14

Turkey elections
Credit: Turkish Presidency

President Tayyip Erdogan officially set Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections for May 14, a month ahead of schedule, signing the decision in a ceremony shown live on television on Friday.

“Our nation will go to the polls to elect its president and parliamentarians on May 14,” Erdogan said in a speech after signing the election decision.

Erdogan, seeking to extend his two decades in power, explained the reasons he set the elections earlier than expected:

First of all, he said, “June 18 would coincide with the university exams, which concern millions of our students.”

Secondly, he pointed out “this date would coincide with a period during which hundreds of thousands of our citizens from home and abroad would be going to the sacred lands to fulfill their hajj obligation.

“And since primary and secondary schools will break up just prior to the election date, millions of our citizens would hit the road to go to their hometowns or to holiday resorts this year as well, as has been the case every year.”

Opposition in Turkey picks Kilicdaroglu for the elections

On Monday, Turkey’s six-party main opposition alliance named Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), as its presidential candidate to challenge Erdogan.

“Our biggest goal is to carry Turkey toward prosperous, peaceful and joyful days,” Kilicdaroglu said after he was nominated, as thousands of supporters cheered.

Known as “Gandhi Kemal” or “Turkey’s Gandhi” for his resemblance to Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, the quietly spoken 74-year-old offers a radically different vision in both substance and style to the fiery, charismatic Erdogan, the BBC notes.

He promised his supporters that he would govern Turkey through consensus and consultation.

“Our table is the table of peace,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. “Our only goal is to take the country to days of prosperity, peace and joy.”

He also said he would return the country to a parliamentary system. Erdogan oversaw a transition to a presidential system, gaining sweeping powers.

Polls suggest that the presidential and parliamentary votes will be tight, with the opposition bloc running slightly ahead of the governing alliance.

The bloc has vowed to reverse many of Erdogan’s policies on the economy, civil rights and foreign affairs in what many see as the most consequential election in the republic’s 100-year history.

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