Monday July 15, 2024

Erdogan sounds starting gun to sombre election campaign

March 11, 2023

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday banned music from his campaign stops and vowed to heal the earthquake-stricken nation´s wounds as he formally set the next election for May 14.

Erdogan signed a decree on national television that kicks off campaigning for what is widely seen as Turkiye´s most consequential vote of its post-Ottoman history. It is also shaping into the most difficult of the 69-year-old leader´s two-decade rule.

Voters will face a stark choice between keeping Erdogan´s Islamic-rooted party in power until 2028 or handing the reins back to the main secular party of Turkiye´s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Erdogan said he would run under the slogan: “Now for Turkiye”. But he set a sombre tone to the campaign season by banning music and instructing candidates from his party to contribute to the emergency service in charge of earthquake recovery work.

“Our agenda during the election (campaign) will focus on efforts to heal the wounds of earthquake victims and to compensate for economic and social harm,” he said. Erdogan is a tireless campaigner and a gifted public speaker who appears to come alive on stage.

But he will have to dig deep to pull off a victory in an election that some of his own allies had suggested he should push back by a year. Turkiye was already battling the worst economic crisis of Erdogan´s time in power when it was hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people and left millions homeless last month.