Eleven prospective candidates who want to run in the presidential election in Turkey on May 14 are trying to collect the 100,000 signatures necessary to compete, with many of them securing a small number of signatures so far.
A person who is over the age of 40, has a university degree and meets the criteria to be elected a member of parliament can be nominated as a presidential candidate, either by 100,000 voters who sign petitions supporting their candidacy or by the nomination of a political party that has a parliamentary group or received at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote in the last elections.
Earlier this week the Supreme Election Board (YSK) accepted applications from 11 prospective candidates who are required to be nominated directly by voters because their parties failed to garner the required 5 percent of support in the 2018 elections. The YSK began to accept petitions on Wednesday and will announce the number of signatures collected for each candidate every night until March 27, when the window for submitting petitions closes.
Among the 11 candidates are chairman of the ultranationalist Homeland Party (VP) Doğu Perinçek, Homeland (Memleket) Party leader Muharrem İnce, leader of the New Welfare Party (YRP) Fatih Erbakan, Sinan Oğan, the candidate of a bloc of four far-right parties and Ahmet Özal, the son of the late president Turgut Özal.
On the first two days of signature collection, support for the 11 prospective candidates remained low although some of them such as İnce and Özal claim to enjoy widespread support.
As of Thursday afternoon, İnce had collected 38,201 signatures, Erbakan 37,487, Oğan 20,694 and Perinçek 9,575, while the other candidates had received much less support.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties, are the main contenders in the election.
Many say if İnce manages to collect 100,000 signatures and stand as a candidate, his candidacy could weaken Kılıçdaroğlu’s chances of winning since his likely voters will be from among people supporting Kılıçdaroğlu, not Erdoğan.
İnce was nominated as the candidate of the CHP in the June 2018 election against current president Erdoğan.
He received 30.6 percent of the nationwide of vote against Erdoğan, who garnered 52.5 percent and won.
İnce parted ways with the CHP in February 2021 and established his own party in May 2021.
He said at a recent news conference that he believes he can get 38 percent of the vote in the first round and 68 percent in a second-round runoff.