An alliance of six opposition parties in Turkey has agreed on a common candidate in the presidential race against Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The name initially remained a secret. A joint statement by the parties said it would be announced on March 6 who the alliance would set up.
The parliamentary and presidential elections are taking place in the shadow of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey in early February that killed more than 45,000 people. Erdogan announced on Wednesday that he wanted to stick to May 14 as the election date.
CHP party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas (both also CHP) are still in the race for the opposition candidate. Many observers expect Kilicdaroglu to line up.
If the election wins, the president's powers are to be curtailed
In the event of an election victory, the alliance wants, among other things, to convert the presidential system back into a parliamentary system, strengthen the rule of law and freedom of the press and curtail the power of the president. In addition to the largest opposition party CHP and the national conservative Iyi party, the six-party alliance also includes two splinter groups from Erdogan's AKP: Ali Babacan's DEVA party and the Gelecek party, led by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
While polls show none of the parties except the CHP and the Iyi Party top three percent, their support could still prove crucial in what is expected to be a tight race. There is a seven percent hurdle for entering parliament in the coming elections.
According to government figures, the earthquake displaced almost two million people. Many of the buildings where elections are actually held are damaged. What the infrastructure for a vote will look like is not yet clear.
The elections should have been held in June, but Erdogan had already announced before the earthquake disaster that he wanted to bring them forward and has now confirmed this plan.