Turkey’s president has formally set the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections for May 14 – a month earlier than scheduled despite last month’s devastating earthquake.
The elections could be the nation’s most significant vote in decades by determining whether Turkey will take a more democratic path or continue on the increasingly authoritarian course set by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Erdogan has ruled over Turkey since 2003 – first as prime minister and as president since 2014.
But this year’s elections may be his most challenging.
Many have criticised Mr Erdogan’s government’s response to the earthquake and accused it of failing to prepare the quake-prone country for a disaster in waiting.
Experts have pointed at lax enforcement of building regulations as a major reason why the earthquake was so deadly.
Earlier this week, Turkey’s disparate opposition parties, including nationalists, Islamists and conservatives, ended month of uncertainty that had frustrated supporters of the anti-Erdogan bloc and nominated a joint candidate to run against Mr Erdogan.
The six opposition parties, which have pledged to roll back the erosion of rights and freedoms, united behind Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the 74-year-old leader of the centre-left, secularist Republican People’s Party.