Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking to continue his two decades in office, officially set the country’s legislative and presidential elections on May 14 on Friday, in spite of last month’s deadly earthquake.
The country’s biggest vote in decades could occur during the elections. Whether the nation moves in the direction of more democracy or stays on the strongman politician’s increasingly authoritarian road depends on this.
Erdogan has been in power in Turkiye since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, but this year’s elections may present him with his greatest challenge.
The economy of the nation is in turmoil, inflation is out of control, and the country is still dealing with the effects of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 46,000 people and caused hundreds of thousands of people in 11 Turkish provinces to seek temporary refuge in tents.
Several have criticised his government’s reaction to the earthquake and charged that it did not adequately prepare the seismically active nation for an impending tragedy.
The failure to enforce construction rules, according to experts, was a key factor in the earthquake’s high death toll.
The fragmented opposition groups in Turkiye, which include nationalists, Islamists, and conservatives, put an end to a month of uncertainty earlier this week by endorsing an unified candidate to challenge Erdogan.
The 74-year-old head of the centrist, secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has the support of the six opposition parties, who have vowed to stop the erosion of rights and freedoms.
(With inputs from agencies)