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Erdogan made up for his delay, and the Turkish presidential elections became very close during the campaign period

Erdogan made up for his delay, and the Turkish presidential elections became very close during the campaign period
  • According to opinion polls, a week and a half before the first round, Erdogan and opposition Kilicdaroglu stand face to face in the Turkish presidential election campaign.
  • The Kurds were so afraid of their party being banned that they ended up running under the name of another party in the elections, which would surely bring them back to parliament.
  • Erdogan is campaigning to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged parts of the country within a year. The opposition will abolish the presidential system.
  • With the vote approaching, it is impossible to say who has the best chance.

Last Tuesday night, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was giving a live TV interview when strange muffled sounds suddenly came from the microphone. The broadcast was interrupted, and it was revealed that the president had fallen ill, by his own admission, with gastroenteritis. Erdogan canceled campaign events for the next few days.

For days, Turkey and the world sat on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen to the 69 presidents who have been suffering from various health problems for years. A long illness could have decided the outcome of the presidential elections held on May 14. However, Erdoğan returned to the campaign four days later, which had become very close by then.

He worked out his backlog

Compared to the end of March, Erdogan’s chances have improved significantly before the first round of the presidential elections, according to public opinion polls. A month ago, opposition Kemal Kilicdaroglu had a lead of about 10 percent, and then he looked more and more winning, with several polls measuring him above the 50 percent needed to win. Now, according to opinion polls, both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu can win, but it is likely that no one will get 50 percent of the vote, and a second round will have to be held at the end of May.

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The manner in which Erdogan has delayed his actions cannot be traced back to one single reason.

Also, the parliamentary elections held at the same time as the presidential elections seem to be getting closer and closer. It is possible that the People’s Alliance, which supports Erdogan, will win this, but it is not at all certain that it will be able to obtain a majority against the coalitions of rival opposition parties. Public opinion polls provide diametrically opposed data, and there is a difference of about 10 percentage points between the most accurate ORC and SONAR polls over the past election.

The figure shows that according to one institution, Kılıçdaroğlu is far from 50% supported, but according to the other, Erdogan is more popular. Euronews conducted fifteen surveys Refers to it in totalthat Kilicdaroglu’s share is 47.6 percent and Erdogan’s is 45 percent, but the opposition candidate leads in twelve polls in all.

According to the April polls, they mostly agree only that none of them have a chance of winning in the first round. And if there is a second round on May 28, the latest polls around it are terribly scattered, and the same number indicates a possible victory for Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu.

Erdogan is campaigning to rebuild the country

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2003, did not start this year’s presidential election campaign from a good position. The Turkish lira has been rapidly losing value against major currencies for years, in part because inflation in the country hit 60 percent last year.

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The earthquake that struck the country in February, in which more than 50,000 people died and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) were left homeless, was over. The disaster struck the authorities in an unorganized manner, and there were settlements where the first rescue teams arrived days later, and many people could have died under the rubble due to errors in the rescue. In addition, it turned out that Erdogan himself relaxed the country’s earthquake safety rules, which were introduced after the 1999 Turkish earthquake.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of earthquake-damaged homes in Adiyaman on March 27, 2023 – Photo: Emin Sensar/Anadolu Agency/AFP

Erdogan in early April With three main messages He launched his presidential campaign. these:

  • Revitalizing the economy, with annual GDP growth of 5.5% between 2024 and 2028;
  • reduce inflation to single-digit levels;
  • And rebuilding the settlements destroyed by the earthquake within one year by handing over more than 650,000 apartments.

The latter is a very severe commitment, particularly in some of the affected areas Even the rubble has not been cleaned up. However, during the past 20 years of Erdogan’s rule, many large-scale infrastructure projects have been implemented, which makes many people think: if there is anyone, he is capable of reconstruction.

This week, Erdogan also attacked the LGBTQ+ community again in his election campaign and called out opposition parties and his main pro-LGBTQ rival.

Turkish Gandhi broke religious taboos

Erdogan’s rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is the head of the left-wing Kemalist Republican People’s Party, which is the main force of the opposition. The 73-year-old candidate from the Alevi religious minority is running a mainly secular and pro-republican campaign, but as the candidate of a highly diverse ideological coalition he has to meet a few demands.

For a long time, Kilicdaroglu’s weakness was manifested precisely in this: in Sunni Muslim Turkey, many voters are prohibited from voting for a candidate of a different faith in the presidential election. In addition, the second strongest party in the coalition of opposition parties is the nationalist Good Party (IYİ), which originally did not want to support Kilicdaroglu. The religious Islamic classes will also have a decisive say in the outcome of the elections.

In recent years, Kilicdaroglu has tried to remain silent about his origin and religious affiliation, which is why he has often been attacked from the national religious side. Then in mid-April He broke his silenceAnd, in a video clip, he spoke at length about what religion means to him, and therefore, what kind of Turkey he would create if elected. the video He blew up Turkey’s Twitter, where it has since garnered more than 110 million views and more than half a million likes.

They have divided the opposition coalition for 13 years

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who worked as a government official until the 1990s, took over the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in 2010. Since then, they have lost every election, but one thing has been achieved: most of the anti-Erdogan forces, which were previously against each other, have lined up. Now behind one candidate.

Under Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidency of the party from the former secular Republican People’s Party Open to Islamic and religious groupsand in 2018 entered into an alliance with the moderate nationalist Aide Party. This year, for the first time, the Kurds, who are the sworn enemies of the nationalists, will not run their own candidate in the presidential elections, which also indirectly favor Kilicdaroglu.

the opposition campaign He promised to dismantle Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, ease living problems, solve the economic crisis, and deal with inflation. Halting the youth exodus and sending home the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the country is also an important topic. Kilicdaroglu promised tax cuts and education support, while in response to Erdogan’s crackdown, they could not help but stress the president’s responsibility for the earthquake’s mismanagement.

The first round may depend on the fugitive

As we wrote in our analysis for the month of March, the surprise in this year’s presidential elections is the veteran left-wing politician Muharrem İnce, who founded his party two years ago. Ince has been a member of parliament for the opposition CHP since 2002, has held many senior positions, and was the CHP presidential candidate in 2018. At that time, he reached 30 percent, after the defeat, he gradually moved away from his former party, and in 2021 left to run for president this year at the head of his new party.

According to Ince, he lost a lot to Erdogan in 2018 because factions within the CHP sabotaged his campaign, and the current opposition coalition will not be able to lead the country. According to CHP supporters, Erdoğan bought Ince and his departure is dividing the opposition.

Kilicdaroglu won many parliamentary seats at the start of the campaign and the Ministry of Education in the event of an opposition victory. I offered it to Inge in return for retractingwhich he did not accept. Incidentally, pro-unification trolls are under all of Ince’s Facebook posts, making his campaign look like an ongoing defense campaign.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Muharrem İnce at a press conference after their meeting in Ankara on March 29, 2023 - Photo: Alp Eren Kaya/CHP/Reuters

Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Muharrem İnce at a press conference after their meeting in Ankara on March 29, 2023 – Photo: Alp Eren Kaya/CHP/Reuters

Pollsters measure Ince’s support at around 6 percent, which in the current line-up will be the turning point between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu. The question is whether there are many people behind Ince, or whether his remaining fame and popularity from 2018 is behind the numbers. On the other hand, the example of previous elections shows that, at the last minute, some supporters of smaller candidates prefer to vote for the most likely opposition candidate.

The Kurds need a new party

Apart from the pro-Erdogan and opposition alliances, the three major players in Turkish politics are the Kurds. The growing number and proportion of Kurds within the country is divided by the political divide: there is a religious group that still supports Erdogan and there is a secular urban group that votes for the opposition coalition. However, the Kurds who live in a bloc in the southeastern part of the country have their own organization called the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The HDP has always been in Erdogan’s favor, in recent years countless politicians from the party have been jailed, their state support withdrawn, and there has long been talk of banning them. Since the latter issue is still ongoing, and the party was proposed to be banned during the election campaign, it was finally decided that HDP politicians would participate in the colors of another party this year.

The Kurds are now running in the elections on behalf of the Green Party and the Future Left Party and, in cooperation with several left-wing parties, are consolidating themselves in the Labor and Freedom Alliance. The percentage of support for the assembly ranges between 10-13 percent, which will certainly exceed the parliamentary seven percent threshold. According to current opinion polls, in this new parliament, the Kurds could be the language of balance between Erdogan and the opposition coalition, and the question is who and how will be able to rule in such a formation.

Anything can happen

Who will lead Turkey in the next five years depends mainly on the presidential elections. Compared to previous months, the result of this is still quite open, and if we count on the fact that many people will actually vote for potential candidates at the last minute, then a result can come very, very close. This includes Erdogan winning, Kilicdaroglu winning, nobody getting 50 percent, and a second round should be held.

And a possible second round Still not confirmed: For example, 7 of the last 14 polls showed Erdogan and 7 Kılıçdaroğlu as winners. There’s one that says the current president is 6 percent ahead, and another that says he’s 11 percent behind. Grouped by Politico It gives candidates a 50-50 chance of a second round, and accordingly, anything can happen.

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