It’s official! Turkiye’s presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in May

President Erdoğan has officially confirmed that Turkiye’s crucial presidential and parliamentary ballots will be held on 14 May 2023.

The Turkish leader signed an official decree confirming the date during a live televised ceremony on Friday, 10 March.

The May elections take place a month earlier than expected, setting off a two-month countdown to what will be the closest race that the ruling AK (Justice and Development) Party have faced since coming into power in 2002.

Even before the devastating earthquakes last month, polls show support for President Erdoğan and the AKP are at an all-time low following the collapse in the value of the Turkish lira and rampant inflation. Much of Turkiye’s 85 million population have been facing a severe cost of living crisis as a result.

The serious economic problems facing the country have been further challenged following the two massive tremors that struck southeast Turkiye on 6 February. Over 50,000 people were killed and thousands of buildings collapsed, many because they failed to follow building regulations in the earthquake-prone zone. This and the slow response of the authorities to reach people in the impacted provinces, despite charging an earthquake levy for such disasters, has turned to anger among large segments of Turkish society.

CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is the opposition’s ‘unity’ candidate

Aiming to tap into the widespread discontent are six opposition parties, who earlier this week announced they were fielding a joint presidential candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The coalition includes the right-wing Good Party (IYI), led by Meral Akşener, who briefly exited the coalition on Friday, only to return on Monday. Akşener had wanted one of CHP’s two big city mayors, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş or Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, to be the joint candidate, as polls show them as the most popular opposition politicians. However, both men have ruled themselves out of the race, firmly backing their CHP leader to be the candidate.

Kılıçdaroğlu will face Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who also announced on Friday that he would be the presidential candidate of the alliance between AKP and their long-standing far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).