Turkey's elections moved forward to May 14, Erdogan says

Vote marks Turkish President's biggest challenge in two decades in power

A poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul last week. EPA
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Turkey's election has been brought forward by a month to May 14 this year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Mr Erdogan appeared in video of a visit to meet young voters in the north-western province of Bursa.

"I am grateful to God that we will be walking side by side with you, our first-time voting youth, in the elections that will be held on May 14," he told the group.

The video backs up an announcement Mr Erdogan made to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) last week about the date of the vote.

The parliamentary and presidential poll will take place on the 73rd anniversary of Turkey's first free elections.

They were originally scheduled to be held on June 18 but Mr Erdogan earlier indicated that the vote could be brought forward.

An AKP official previously said that an election in June would coincide with the summer holiday season when people are travelling.

Opinion polls show the parliamentary and presidential elections will be tight, and will be Mr Erdogan's biggest test in his two decades at the reins of the regional military power, Nato member and major emerging market economy.

He faces a tough challenge from opposition groups that have banded together to try to end his grip on power.

The six parties, including the secularist Republican People's Party and centre-right nationalist IYI Party, have yet to name their presidential candidate.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is considered to be a lacklustre campaigner.

Another contender, CHP Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu, was given a jail sentence and political ban in December for insulting election officials — a conviction he is challenging.

Meanwhile, Turkey's top court is hearing a case to shut down the third-largest parliamentary party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and has frozen some of its accounts.

The HDP former leader Selahattin Demirtas has been in jail since 2016 on charges of insulting the president.

When campaigning starts, opposition parties may find it harder to have their message heard.

In the 2018 presidential election they struggled for air time on Turkish television channels, which are mostly strongly supportive of Mr Erdogan.

Updated: January 22, 2023, 7:01 PM