Ankara (Caasimada Online) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday that the country’s next general election would be held on May 14, one month earlier than initially scheduled.
This move sets the stage for what many analysts believe will be one of the most consequential elections in Turkey’s history.
Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted party have been in power for two decades, during which the country has seen economic highs and lows, wars, and even a failed coup attempt.
Erdogan’s decision to bring the election forward by a month is seen as a strategic move to give his voters an advantage. Analysts believe Erdogan’s office is looking for an opportunity when his supporters are more likely to vote than those supporting his opponents.
In a speech to his ruling party, Erdogan invoked the memory of the country’s first free election in 1950, which was held on May 14 and won by Adnan Menderes, a prime minister who was later deposed and executed by a military junta.
Erdogan, who previously was removed from office and briefly imprisoned during his tenure as mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, frequently draws comparisons between himself and Menderes.
The opposition to Erdogan is currently divided and has yet to agree on a candidate to field against him. Their best hope at one stage appeared to be Istanbul’s popular mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, but a criminal court banned him from politics last month.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the main opposition party’s leader, now appears to be the most likely candidate to stand against Erdogan. Still, his lack of popularity in opinion polls has caused divisions within the opposition.
The election comes at a time when Erdogan’s popularity has been hurt by an economic downturn, as inflation reached 85% in the past year. However, the opposition’s failure to unite around a single candidate has made it difficult for them to mount a strong challenge to Erdogan’s rule.
“I think the election is too close to call, but I would never write Erdogan off in any election,” said emerging market economist and Turkey watcher Timothy Ash.
The upcoming election will test Erdogan’s authority in the parliament as his political party, which is currently in a partnership with an extreme right-wing organization, has recently seen a decrease in backing.
With less than four months until the election, the opposition must act quickly to agree on a single candidate and mount a unified challenge to Erdogan’s rule.
“Now, there is no other choice for the (opposition) but to determine the joint candidate as soon as possible and to stand behind this candidate with all their party organizations,” veteran Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel tweeted.
SOURCE: CAASIMADA ONLINE AND NEWS AGENCIES