ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president has announced May 14 as the date for the country's next parliamentary and presidential elections.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who plans to seek reelection, made the announcement during a Saturday youth conference in northwestern Bursa province. A video of the event was released Sunday.
“I thank God that we are destined to share our path with you, our valued youth, who will vote for the first time in the elections that will be held on May 14,” said Erdogan, who had hinted at the date last week.
He said in Bursa he would make the formal call on March 10, after which Turkey's Supreme Election Council would prepare for the elections.
If no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote, a second round of voting would be held on May 28.
Erdogan, who has been in office since 2003 — first as prime minister and as president since 2014 — faces his most difficult election yet as Turkey's troubled economy struggles with soaring inflation.
A six-party opposition alliance has yet to put forth a presidential candidate. A pro-Kurdish party that is the third-largest in parliament has so far been excluded from the alliance and said it might field its own candidate.
Erdogan, 68, introduced a system of governance in 2018 that abolished the office of the prime minister and concentrated most powers in the hands of the president. The office of the president was largely a ceremonial post before then. Under the new system, presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the same day.
The opposition has blamed Turkey’s economic downturn and an erosion of civil rights and freedoms on Erdogan, saying the revised government system amounts to “one-man rule.” The presidential system was narrowly approved in a 2017 referendum and too effect after the 2018 elections.
This year's elections were supposed to take place in June, but ruling party members said that month would coincide with summer and religious holidays, prompting an earlier date.