Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan formally moved up the date of the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections to May 14, signing an official decree in a televised ceremony Friday.
Expected to be the closest race in the Turkish leader’s two-decade rule, the election will now take place a month earlier than previously scheduled — with the announcement kick-starting a two-month presidential race.
The announcement comes in the wake of devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey last month killing tens of thousands, and amid questions of how elections can be held in the quake-struck region. In his address, Erdoğan said they wanted to turn May 14 into “an auspicious race that would erase the traces of the destruction” of the February 6 earthquakes.
Erdoğan also announced he would be the presidential candidate of the alliance between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party.
Earlier this week, the country’s six-party opposition coalition announced its joint presidential candidate to oppose Erdoğan, placing their support behind main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from the country’s center-left Republican People’s Party.