June 1, 2023

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Elections in Türkiye: Red Rivers for Candidates in Ankara and Izmir

The political confrontation in Turkey enters the final stage 14 days before the elections

Two weeks before the Turkish elections, opinion polls showed Erdogan losing to his main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Combined with the results of pulse measurements, the Turkish president’s aerial avalanche destroyed the image he had been developing for many years. That cruel and indestructible leader.

According to the GuardianMinisters insist that Erdoğan’s illness – who previously underwent bowel surgery – is no more serious than stomach flu. The Turkish president naturally returned to the pre-election fray on Saturday (29/4).

The fragile Erdogan

In any case, the episode added to the picture that an authoritarian figure that dominates every aspect of Turkish life, and dictates by itself domestic policy, security policy, and foreign policy, must be held accountable, and that the time has come for change.

The fact that Erdoğan, unusually, is trailing slightly in the polls behind his presidential rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party and leader of the six-party opposition coalition, is a sign that the political landscape may be changing.

Analysts estimate that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ultra-nationalist allies may lose control of parliament after earlier major defeats in local elections in Istanbul and Ankara.

The “Red Wave” Kilicdaroglu and Erdogan

Both pre-election rallies over the weekend were a success, whether it was Erdoğan in Ankara or Kilicdaroglu in Izmir. The head of the opposition coalition characteristically stressed at the end of his pre-election speech: “These elections are the elections that will bring democracy to Turkey.”

The response was made by Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Ankara, with its corresponding “Red River”, where tens of thousands of people gathered for a campaign rally for the Turkish president before the elections.

Erdogan characteristically responded to Kemal Kilicdaroglu: “Do you know who is the most important group of lies? Mr. Kemal. If you want to take a lesson in lying, contact Mr. Kemal’s office. He knows it very well.”

Photo in Kilitsdaroglu’s precinct

Photo at Erdogan’s electoral rally

Full support of Kilicdaroglu’s pro-Kurdish party

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, led by Selahattin Demirtas, announced last Friday that it would support Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s coalition.

According to the “The Observer” report, the Kurds make up a large percentage of the country’s population, accounting for about 1/5 of Turkey’s 85 million population. In previous elections, the HDP, which Erdogan is trying to ban, attracted about 10% of the vote nationally.

Earthquakes and the economy are the “thorns” in Erdogan’s campaign

Major issues for the election include the economy. Extremely high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis are widely attributed to Erdogan’s mismanagement. Such problems, which affect everyone, can undermine the rural base on which the ruling party has traditionally relied. The government’s perceived lack of response to the earthquakes in February, which killed more than 50,000 people, and anger over corrupt building practices ignored by the state could also affect many voters.

But this election is also about legacy and history, which seems to be catching up with Turkey’s most powerful leader since Kemal Ataturk. The constitutional changes Erdogan has pushed, which give him sweeping executive powers, mean he is seen as primarily and personally responsible for the country’s problems. His aggressive efforts to silence independent critics and the media did not prevent a growing public backlash.

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