April 18 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday that early presidential and parliamentary elections have been moved to June 24 — more than a year early.
The vote was originally scheduled for November 2019. Erdogan said the switch was made to accelerate Turkey’s change from a primarily parliament system to one giving the president more executive authority.
A referendum on an 18-article bill itemizing the switch was approved by voters in April 2017.
By calling for the early election, Erdogan could solidify his hold on power sooner. Since a failed military coup in 2016, Erdogan has jailed perceived opponents and sought greater power.
“Although it seems like no serious issues emerge as the president and the government are working in harmony, the illnesses of the old system can counter us at every step,” Erdogan said in a nationally broadcast speech Wednesday. “But with the cross-border operations we maintain in Syria, and also historical events happening in the area centered around Syria and Iraq, it became a must for Turkey to climb over the uncertainty as soon as possible.”
The announcement came after Erdogan met with ally Devlet Bahceli, leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party, who’d already endorsed rescheduling the elections.
All positions in the 600-seat Turkish Parliament will be contested in the June vote. National university exams, scheduled for the same date, will be postponed for a week.
The Turkish lira gained 1.6 percent on world indices, to 4.03 to the U.S. dollar, after Wednesday’s announcement — after weakening against other currencies since the start of the year.