Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again signaled that presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on May 14, which is normally scheduled to be held in June.
“We are making an accounting of this disaster that we have never seen before. It is our duty to ask the accounts that need to be asked in terms of judicial, administrative, political. Today, the juvenile opposition has emerged, claiming we are controlling the judiciary. It's a shame. This nation will do what is necessary on May 14 (against the opposition who) went to the earthquake zone for just talking, posing and exploiting the pain,” Erdoğan said on March 1 during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after the debate on the schedule of the elections that started in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquakes.
On Feb. 13, AKP’s heavyweight and former deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç called for the postponement of elections due to two major earthquakes, which the opposition deemed "self-coup."
Responding to the “unconstitutionality” criticisms of such a move, Arınç said “constitutions are not sacred texts.”
After Arınç, AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik and deputy chairperson of the party in charge of election affairs Ali İhsan Yavuz said it is not the right time to discuss elections after such a disaster.
On the other hand, the main opposition Nation Alliance is expected to announce their candidate in their next summit on March 2.
Replying to the criticisms of the inadequate and late response of the government to the earthquake, Erdoğan said “The earthquake hit 11 provinces, affecting 14 million people. We were facing severe winter conditions. The difficulties and weather conditions brought on by the collapsed infrastructure and the turmoil challenged us.”
“There have been some problems and shortcomings, but everyone witnessed that we rushed to help our earthquake victims with all our might. How many times have all those (who criticized us) been to the region so far?” he said.
Erdoğan added that 203,598 buildings either collapsed or will be demolished urgently in the quake-zone.
“Telling our shortcomings and asking for blessings are the expressions of our sincerity and the love between us and our nation,” he noted.
On Feb. 27, Erdoğan asked for “blessing” from Adıyaman citizens admitting that the government had failed to respond adequately in the “first couple of days” of major quakes.
“In the first couple of days, in Adıyaman, we were, unfortunately, unable to run the (rescue and search) works with the efficiency we desired, due to the destructive effect of the quakes, the negative weather conditions and the difficulties that were brought by the damaged infrastructure. I ask for your blessing because of this. We are aware of everything and no one should have a doubt that we are doing and will do what is necessary,” he said in southeastern Adıyaman.