ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed Thursday that he plans to stand for reelection next year.
Erdoğan, 68, made the announcement during a speech in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, where he challenged the main opposition party’s leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to announce the candidate who would challenge him on behalf of an alliance of opposition parties.
”(Recep) Tayyip Erdoğan is the candidate of the People’s Alliance,” Erdoğan said, referring to the between his Justice and Development Party and a nationalist party. “If you have the courage, declare your candidacy or the candidate of the alliance.”
Turkey is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by June 2023 at the latest.
Erdoğan has led the country for almost 20 years, first as prime minister and then as president. But support for him and the People’s Alliance has steadily declined amid high inflation and a cost of living crisis.
Kilicdaroglu led the opposition to victory in municipal elections in 2019, when its mayoral candidates ousted the ruling party from office in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, and in the capital, Ankara.
The alliance of opposition parties has yet to announce its presidential candidate, although Kilicdaroglu and the mayors of Ankara and Istanbul are viewed as top contenders.