Erdogan suggests Turkish elections will be held in May, three months after earthquake

ANKARA/PAZARSIK, TURKEY—President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday stuck to his earlier plan to vote on dates just over three months after a devastating earthquake killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey, May 14. He suggested that elections would be held on the same day.

“The country will do what it needs to do on May 14,” Erdogan said in an address to the ruling AK party’s parliament.

Since last month’s earthquake, there have been conflicting signs about the timing of presidential and legislative elections, with some suggesting they could be postponed later in the year or held on June 18 as planned.

Before the catastrophe, Erdogan’s popularity had slumped in recent years as inflation surged and the lira plummeted, hurting living standards, but several polls in recent months showed his support. was showing signs of recovery.

Erdogan has faced a wave of criticism over his government’s handling of the country’s worst earthquake in modern history. But he defended Ankara’s response on Wednesday, saying it was caught in an “earthquake storm”.

Erdogan, who aims to extend his rule for another 30 years, has previously said he would move the vote forward to May to avoid the June holidays.

Questions have been expressed about the electoral authorities’ ability to make logistical arrangements for affected people to vote in the earthquake zone, home to about 14 million people. Election officials are visiting the region this week to produce a report on its readiness.

People - Cue for Aid
People affected by the deadly earthquake receive aid in Hatay, Turkey on February 24, 2023. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

Erdogan came to power 20 years ago as Turkey faced a severe economic crisis and chronic corruption in 2001, and the system crumbled.

Now he also has to contend with criticism of his response to earthquakes in areas that have traditionally supported him. and his party and its partners enjoyed the same level of support in parliamentary elections.

Some Turks, in one of the areas hardest hit by the quake, expressed disappointment on Wednesday with the government’s response to the disaster, saying it had a negative impact on people’s perception of the government.

“I don’t think the opposition parties are up to the task either.

Earlier Wednesday, the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) said the death toll in Turkey had risen to 45,089, bringing the total toll, including Syria, to about 51,000. The earthquake also injured him 108,000 in Turkey.

Ankara faces a huge challenge to repair the extensive damage caused by the earthquake and the powerful shaking that followed, causing millions of people to take refuge in tents or seek relocation to other cities. I am

Erdogan has promised to rebuild their homes within a year, but thousands of people will be able to replace their tents and containers and queue up for food rations for permanent housing. It will take many months.

He said on Wednesday more than 200,000 buildings had collapsed or been severely damaged in the quake.About two million people were evacuated from the area, which has been hit by more than 11,000 aftershocks, according to AFAD. is registered with