(Istanbul) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the head of Turkey since 2003 and who hopes to remain so for another five years, confirmed on Sunday the date of May 14 for the holding of presidential and legislative elections.
“I will use my authority to advance the election to May 14,” the president said during a video broadcast meeting with young people in Bursa, the large industrial city in the West.
“It is not about early elections […]but an adjustment to take into account (the date) of the exams”, he justified when the initial date of the ballot was scheduled for June 18.
With an exceptional political longevity in Turkey and more broadly in Europe, Mr. Erdogan, first Prime Minister since 2003, modified the Constitution in order to become President in 2014, directly elected by universal suffrage and will be, at 69, candidate to his own estate.
This electoral meeting will be crucial for its future and for that of the country, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, but a centerpiece of the region’s geopolitical chessboard: Ankara has offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, the two belligerents at its gates with which it shares the shores of the Black Sea.
This crucial electoral meeting, for his future and that of Turkey, was initially expected on June 18, but as observers expected, Mr. Erdogan had already advanced this week the date of May 14, the anniversary of the triumph. election of the Democratic Party (conservative) in 1950.
Mr. Erdogan had already advanced this week the date of May 14, the anniversary of the electoral triumph of the (conservative) Democratic Party in 1950: without clearly announcing the day of the election, he had indicated on Wednesday that it would be held “73 years” after this victory.
“Our nation will address its response to the Table of Six (opposition platform, editor’s note) the same day as 73 years ago”, he had launched before the elected representatives of his party in parliament, the AKP, Parti of Justice and Development which has dominated Turkish political life since 2002.
The opposition, which intends to present a united front of the six main parties – minus the HDP (pro-Kurdish democratic left), the third force in Parliament – and above all a single candidate, must announce the name of the latter during the month of February .
Two decades at the top
The electoral campaign will therefore begin 60 days before, that is to say on “March 10”, also indicated the president.
May 14, 1950 marks the victory of Adnan Menderes, an emblematic figure for the Turkish conservative right, who put an end to the reign of the party of Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk”, father of modern Turkey.
Menderes, founder of the Democratic Party in 1946, was overthrown in a military coup in 1960, then executed a year later and his party dissolved.
The choice of May 14 thus sends a clear signal to the conservative fringe of the electorate.
Tall in stature – he frequently dominates his interlocutors – Recep Tayyiup Erdogan, a former soccer player who dreamed of a professional career, has reigned over Turkey for two decades, practically unchallenged even if he refutes the term “dictator” whose this week decked out the British weekly The Economist.
Elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994, the ideal springboard for a national career, he was sentenced in 1998 for having recited a poem with Islamist tones – an episode which had only reinforced his aura.
Released after four months of detention, Mr. Erdogan founded the AKP shortly after, which became the instrument of his rise.
His accession to the post of Prime Minister in 2003 had ushered in a decade of unprecedented economic growth and political stability in modern Turkey.
But from 2013, faced with an unprecedented youth protest movement across Turkey, unreceptive to the Islamo-conservative model promoted by the AKP, Mr. Erdogan responded with relentless repression.
The authoritarian drift of his power that began that year was accentuated after the first electoral defeat of the AKP in the legislative elections of 2015, then with the coup attempt of July 2016.
The stainless “Reis” who has seen his popularity drop in recent years will nevertheless try to convince his fellow citizens once again that he is the essential man.