June 24, 2014 / 8:50 AM / 3 years ago

Turkey's ruling AK Party to announce presidential candidate on July 1

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s ruling AK Party will announce its presidential candidate - expected to be Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan - at a parliamentary group meeting on July 1, a party official told Reuters on Tuesday.

It will be the first time the Turks have voted directly for their president.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, has made little secret of his ambition to stand for what he has said will be a stronger presidency. But he has yet to formally announce his bid.

Buoyed by the strong showing of his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March municipal elections, when it took 43 percent of the national vote despite a corruption scandal and anti-government protests last summer, his aides have predicted his victory in the first round on Aug. 10.

Last week, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said they had agreed to nominate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who stepped down in December as head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint candidate for the presidential race.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is also expected to announce its candidate this week.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Hugh Lawson

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