It is an understatement to say that she was expected. After weeks of speculation and negotiations in all directions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally announced on Thursday January 19 that he wanted to organize presidential and legislative elections on May 14, a month earlier than planned by the electoral calendar. The decision, fraught with meaning for an election considered to be one of the tightest in recent decades, immediately raised many legal questions and provoked lively debates between experts and political representatives, on all sides.
The Head of State, candidate for his own succession, became Prime Minister in 2003, before modifying the Constitution and becoming President, directly elected by universal suffrage, in 2014. At 68, Mr. Erdogan thus presents for the third time for a presidential election in a context of deep economic crisis and extreme political tension, where his authoritarianism and his frenzied conservatism are the subject of lively disputes by many segments of Turkish civil society. For the first time in twenty years, he is no longer the undisputed favorite in the polls.
In front of the members of the parliamentary group of his formation, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the television cameras, Mr. Erdogan first wanted to place the ballot under the sign of a striking and divisive figure of the political history of the country. He recalled that on May 14, “seventy-three years ago to the day”, had taken place the triumph of the candidate Adnan Menderes, during the first elections of the country in 1950. A victory which had not only put an end to the unchallenged reign of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the formation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, but which had also consecrated a populist and deeply conservative politician, marking a generation of Turks, including the current president’s own father. Overthrown by the military in 1960, Adnan Menderes was hanged a year later.
“On May 14, 1950, when he won the election, Menderes said, ‘Enough, the people speak!’ », launched President Erdogan in reference to the campaign slogan of the time. A harangue taken up, thereafter, by very many parties. He then engaged in an all-out attack from his adversaries. “Our nation will address its response to the “table of six” [le nom de la plateforme de l’opposition qui regroupe six formations politiques emmenées par le CHP] the same day as seventy-three years ago”, he assured. Recognizing that “our biggest problem was inflation” and “that she had started to drop”he made a point of emphasizing that“no election has ever been easy” but that he had, each time, succeeded “to emerge victorious”.
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