Elections in Turkey should even take place on May 14, despite the earthquake | Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

The Turkish Government has no intention, at least for now, of postponing the elections scheduled for May 14, even with the catastrophic impact of earthquakes in southern Turkey, whose death toll in the country alone yesterday surpassed the barrier of 40 thousand (40,600).

The information was advanced to the Habertürk television channel by sources from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The possibility of postponing the suffrage was discussed this week at a meeting between Erdogan and Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, one of the partners in the governing coalition, but was reportedly put aside.

Bülent Arinç, co-founder of the AKP and former Deputy Prime Minister, had defended a postponement of the suffrage because there were no conditions for it to take place. Statements that led the opposition coalition to react, ensuring that there is enough time to carry out the election on the scheduled date and recalling that, constitutionally, the postponement for one year can only be made in case the Turkish Parliament declares war against another country.

Erdogan, Prime Minister between 2003 and 2014 and President since then (after the 2017 constitutional revision and his election in 2018, he became President and Head of Government), announced in December that, if he wins, this will be his last term.

For the opposition, the President’s candidacy for another term is unconstitutional because of the term limit, but the president and his Executive defend that the term for which he was elected in 2018 is the first with the new Constitution, which allows you to reapply.

The devastating earthquakes that hit Southern Turkey on February 6th turned these elections into the biggest political test that Erdogan has had to face since he came to power, as journalist Sofia Lorena wrote in PÚBLICO on the 8th. Coinciding with the centenary of the Turkish Republic , will allow Erdogan, if re-elected, to surpass the “father” of the Turks, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in the pantheon of the nation’s heroes.

But if before that race seemed to bring an almost certain victory on the horizon, also due to the persecution of important opposition politicians, the trail of more than 40 thousand dead (a number that should continue to increase in the coming days and weeks, and with less and less miraculous stories of rescues) could make it more difficult for Erdogan to overcome Atatürk.

Even more so because the more than 264,000 apartments destroyed when the earth shook on the 6th show that anti-seismic legislation in a country prone to similar disasters was not only not complied with but was highly neglected – more than 100 builders and real estate developers were, meanwhile, detained, but that does not mean that corruption and the lack of supervision will not be reflected in the result at the polls on 14 May.

Especially because anger at the collapse of buildings with too much sand and too little cement, turned into traps for tens of thousands of people, was joined by the lack of rapid response by the State’s means to help the victims. It remains to be seen whether this lack of help in the first 48 hours – and studies say that most earthquake survivors are found within the first 24 hours – did not contribute to the increase in the number of deaths.

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