Turkey’s President Erdogan launches re-election bid in alarming speech

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to extend his two decades in power with another term.

Turks will head to the polls on May 14 with the election looking to be on a knife edge, in what could be the ruling party’s most difficult challenge yet.

Erdogan’s Islamic-based Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002 but is facing unprecedented backlash for the country’s raging economic crisis and a slow response to the devastating February earthquakes which killed more than 50,000 people.

The Turkish lira has fallen steeply in value and inflation has skyrocketed, which Mr Erdogan’s opponents have been quick to blame on his policies.

The inflation rate reached an alarming high of 85 per cent last year partially due to the Turkish president’s persistence on having ultra-low interest rates.

Mr Erdogan has insisted the inflation rate would be brought down to single figures.

On Tuesday, Mr Erdogan held a rally at a sports arena in Turkey’s capital Ankara where he unveiled the party’s plan for another term in power.

Tens of thousands flocked to hear Mr Erdogan’s speech, where he condemned “global imperialists” in a rousing address that was televised by news stations across the country.

“Turkey has no choice but to be strong, to stay strong and to keep getting stronger so that it does not fall back into the pit of political and economic bondage,” he said.

His key opponent is the secular Republican People’s Party, which is helmed by Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Mr Erdogan has attempted to frame the opposition as pawns of foreign governments and “coup plotters”.

“We are here to open the door of the Turkish century together with our nation standing up against coup plotters and global imperialists,” he said.

The 69-year-old president needs to secure more than half of the vote on May 14 to become the outright winner of the contest.

If no outright winner is found after the first round, run-off elections will be held.

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