Erdogan sticks to election date despite earthquake disaster
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to step up reconstruction efforts after two deadly earthquakes and stick to his announced election timetable to boost his popularity ahead of a possible setback for the economy, Bloomberg said.
Erdogan and senior members of his AKP (Justice and Development Party) met last week to discuss the pros and cons of a postponement to deal with the aftermath of the natural disaster, according to people familiar with the talks. They concluded to keep the proposed schedule for the May 14 vote, although a return to the original June 18 date remains on the table, according to sources from the AKP.
About 8 million voters were registered in the February 6 earthquake zone, or 14% of the electorate, and Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council is expected to decide whether and how to hold elections there. According to government figures, about 2 million voters have left the area.
While postponing the election could give the government more time to prioritize and deal with the crisis, Erdogan sees a quick start to reconstruction efforts and a commitment to the election timetable as a way to show strength, sources said.
He also fears that postponing the election could be accompanied by a further deterioration of the economic situation, as large segments of the population are struggling with the worst cost-of-living crisis in two decades, they said.
Opposition leaders in Turkey have insisted on holding elections on June 18 as originally planned, and the president does not want to give the impression that he is trying to duck the vote, according to sources.