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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called an election more than a year early.

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“We have decided to hold elections on June 24,” Erdogan said in a televised address from the presidential palace in Ankara after meeting with a political ally. “The Supreme Election Board will start preparation immediately.” “Even though the president and government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system confront us at every step we take,” Erdogan said in a speech broadcast live on television. He added that “Developments in Syria and elsewhere have made it urgent to switch to the new executive system in order to take steps for our country’s future in a stronger way… We discussed Mr Bahceli’s call with our relevant authorities. We came to the agreement that we should approach this early election positively.”

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The decision came as a surprise because Erdogan, who has dominated the country’s political scene for more than a decade, has so far said he had no plan to bring forward the presidential and legislative votes, which were due to be held in November 2019 moving it more than 18 months earlier than planned. The move came a day after his main ally, far-right leader Devlet Bahceli, called for snap polls.

The surprise vote call comes amid a state of emergency, economic worries and Turkey’s increasing regional involvement.

Turkey’s lira currency firmed slightly against the dollar, and was at 4.0602 at 1314 GMT. The yield on Turkey’s benchmark bond fell some 10 basis points.

The government had previously dismissed the prospect of early polls. Erdogan last year narrowly won a referendum to change the constitution and create an executive presidency. However, those extended powers are not due to take effect until after the presidential election.

Sources : France 24, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Wall Street Journal

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