Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that national elections will be held on May 14, sticking to his previous plan for the vote with a date just over three months after devastating earthquakes killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey.
“This nation will do what is necessary on May 14, God willing,” Erdogan said in a speech to parliamentarians from his AK Party in parliament on Wednesday.
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There had been conflicting signals over the likely timing of the presidential and parliamentary elections since last month’s earthquakes, with some suggesting they could be postponed until later in the year or could be held as scheduled on June 18.
Before the disaster, Erdogan’s popularity had been eroded by the soaring cost of living and a lira slump.
The Turkish government has since faced criticism over its response to the deadliest quake in the nation’s modern history.
While Erdogan has accepted there had been problems with the earthquake response, he has also defended it, and said “negative campaigns” had been conducted for “political interest[s]”.
Erdogan, aiming to extend his rule into a third decade, previously said he was bringing the votes forward to May to avoid holidays in June. Polls suggest they would present his biggest electoral challenge yet.
Doubts had been expressed about the ability of election authorities to make logistical arrangements for voting in the quake-hit zone, home to some 14 million people.
A three-month state of emergency was declared in Turkish provinces affected by the earthquake on February 7, a day after it struck.