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Turkey: Erdogan sets stage for earlier elections

January 18, 2023

The Turkish president has indicated that a pivotal election could take place in May rather than June. Polls show a tight race in what could be a major test of Erdogan's rule.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan
This year's election in Turkey could be one of the biggest tests in Erdogan's political careerImage: David W Cerny/REUTERS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey could hold elections on May 14, which is a little over a month earlier than previously had been announced.

Polls show the parliamentary and presidential elections will be tight, with Erdogan risking being unseated by a six-party opposition alliance, led by the Republican People's Party (CHP).

Erdogan's approval ratings have dropped amid an economic crisis that saw inflation hit 85% at one point last year. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in an alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has lost support in recent years.

Erdogan has asserted that the AKP would defeat the opposition alliance in the upcoming election, comparing it to the 1950 vote that saw the CHP defeated after having ruled for 27 years.

Opposition against bringing forward elections

Last year, Erdogan had said that the elections would be held in June.

Erdogan's allies for weeks have hinted that the polls could be held earlier than the previously announced June 18 due to religious holidays and school exams, which could potentially damper voter turnout.

The opposition has said that they would not support an early election. If the 60% majority required to push forward elections is not achieved, Erdogan could dissolve parliament to call the vote within the next 60 days.

The Table of Six has not yet picked a presidential candidate. The six parties of the alliance intend to hold their next discussions on choosing a candidate on January 26.

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sdi/wmr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)