Leader of small Turkish Islamist party announces bid for presidency

ISTANBUL - A small Turkish Islamist party on Tuesday said it would field a candidate in the June 24 presidential snap election, potentially siphoning off critical votes from President Tayyip Erdogan and stopping him from an outright win in the first round.
The Saadet, or Felicity, Party, which has never received enough votes to enter parliament since it was established in 2001, nominated party head Temel Karamollaoglu as its presidential candidate, the party said.
Karamollaoglu still needs to collect 100,000 signatures by May 9 for his presidential run to be approved by Turkey's High Electoral Board.
The party has proven to be an unexpected but critical ally for Turkey's secular opposition in the upcoming elections, after refusing calls from the ruling AK Party (AKP) to join the electoral alliance it has made with parliament's smallest group, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The Saadet Party shares the same Islamist roots with the ruling AK Party and analysts say its entry into the race could help the opposition by drawing voters from the AKP base and forcing a second round of voting.
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