Turkey’s ruling AKP to announce candidate for presidency by July 1

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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has confirmed that it will announce its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections on July 1, two days before the official deadline.

The two main opposition parties at Parliament last week agreed on the name of former Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) head Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as a common opposition candidate.

Many AKP officials have strongly suggested that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is their party’s most likely candidate for the post, replacing incumbent Abdullah Gül.

The latest figure to touch on the issue is Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler, who hinted that Erdoğan would run during an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 23.

“The public more or less knows our candidate,” İşler said when asked about the upcoming elections.

İşler said the result of the upcoming presidential election due on Aug. 10 was foreshadowed by the March 30 local elections, which saw the AKP win for the third time with over 45 percent of the vote.

“When you look at the outcomes of the local elections, you can see that the AK Party’s candidate will receive the majority of the votes in the first round, securing a landslide victory,” he added.

İşler also said the new president should not be an outsider to politics, unlike the two main opposition parties’ joint candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.

İhsanoğlu, announced on June 16 as the joint candidate of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is an experienced academic and diplomat, who stepped down in December as Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

“I don’t think the opposition’s joint candidate stands a chance to win,” İşler said.

Turkey is set to elect a new president on Aug. 10 – the first time a president will be elected by the public.

If no candidate can secure more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round, a runoff will be held Aug. 24 between the top two candidates.

The presidential poll will be in the center of a busy election schedule in between March’s local elections and the general elections in July 2015.

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