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Erdogan Calls March Election ‘Final’ Campaign Before Handover

(Bloomberg) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he’s seeking support for his ruling party one last time ahead of this month’s municipal vote, indicating that he won’t run for reelection when his term comes to an end in 2028.

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Friday’s address to a group of supporters in Istanbul marked the clearest announcement yet by Erdogan on his political future after having ruled Turkey for more than two decades, first as prime minister and later as head of state.

“I’m continuing my efforts without a pause. Because this is a final for me,” said Erdogan, who recently turned 70. “This is my last election with the powers bestowed upon me by the law, but its outcome will mark the handover to my brothers who will come after me.”

The Turkish leader signaled before last year’s presidential election that he was seeking office for the last time. Some of his political rivals disputed his candidacy in 2023, saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidency meant he wasn’t eligible to run in the first place. Erdogan’s supporters argued that a 2017 referendum that changed Turkey’s political system to an executive presidency allowing him to compete.

The Man Who Ended Erdogan’s Rule in Istanbul Did So With a Smile

Erdogan’s governing AK Party lost elections in some of Turkey’s major cities in 2019. Wresting back control of Istanbul and the capital Ankara is as much a matter of prestige as an opportunity to control municipal budgets and deliver services to a huge pool of voters before the next general election.

Erdogan himself served as Istanbul’s mayor in the 1990s, which put him at the center of Turkish politics and paved the way for his ascension to the nexus of executive power in 2002 elections.

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