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Turkey to hold elections on May 14

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced May 14th as the date for the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections.

President Erdogan, who plans to seek reelection, made the announcement during a weekend youth conference in northwestern Bursa province.

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.

68-year-old Erdogan, 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 a “one-man rule.”

The presidential system was narrowly approved in a 2017 referendum and took 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.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas