Turkey will soon set up a multibillion-dollar fund to rebuild vast areas ravaged by two massive earthquakes last month as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to atone for his government’s much-criticized response to the disaster, with crucial elections just two months away.

A bill to set up a disaster reconstruction fund made it through the parliament’s planning and budget commission on Thursday and is expected to be passed by the general assembly within days.

Erdogan pledges to rebuild the quake-hit regions within a year, hoping the ambitious plan will boost his popular support and help him win a third presidential term in the May 14 vote. His poll numbers were already sagging amid economic turmoil when the temblors struck on Feb. 6, killing more than 46,000 people and causing massive destruction across 11 provinces, where he and his party have enjoyed a strong base. The opposition, mounting its strongest challenge yet to Erdogan’s two-decade rule, charges that the government bears responsibility for the huge human and material toll because of a slow and disorganized response to the quakes and poor enforcement of building codes over the years due to corruption and clientelism.



Written by Mustafa Sönmez