A stagnant economy, high inflation that has been plaguing Turkey for several years, accusations of corruption and autocratic leadership, voters’ tiredness of a politician who has ruled them for twenty years, and to name a few, the catastrophic earthquake in February this year in the southeast of Turkey, which, in addition to the enormous material the damage claimed more than 50 thousand lives, and more than two million people were left homeless.
Polls favored Kilicdaroglu before the first round
All this has led many political analysts to conclude that this year is the new-age Turkish sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan “ripe” for defeat. These forecasts were also confirmed by opinion polls, which before the first round gave a small advantage to Erdogan’s biggest challenger – the president of the social democratic party CHP to Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Rival on Erdogan: He lies and manipulates. We will win the second round.
He is the presidential candidate of the pre-election coalition of six opposition parties, while Erdogan, in addition to his Islamist party AKP, is also supported by the nationalist MHP, the Islamist-nationalist BBP party and the Islamist YRP.
Erdogan won the first round
But in the end, the predictions did not come true. In the first round, Erdogan won 49.5 percent of the vote, and Kilicdaroglu 44.9 percent. The third presidential candidate, a nationalist Sinan Ogansupported by a coalition of nationalist-anti-immigration parties, won just under 5.2 percent of the vote.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu is an economist by education. Since 2010, he has been the president of the social democratic party CHP (abbreviation for the Republican People’s Party), which advocates a secular Turkey following the example of Atatürk. Years ago, Kilicdaroglu managed to form a broad coalition of opposition parties called the National Alliance (Narod for short), which won the Turkish local elections in 2019. The coalition of parties supporting Erdogan is called the People’s Alliance (People for short).
As a point of interest: the fourth candidate in the first round of the presidential election, former CHP chairman, now chairman of the Domovina party Muharrem Incewon 0.43 percent of the vote, although he withdrew his candidacy a few days before the first round.
Erdogan’s dominance in central Turkey
The voter turnout in the first round was slightly more than 87% (all Turkish voters are around 64 million). Erdogan got just over 27.1 million votes, while Kilicdaroglu got just under 24.6 million.
Turkey at the turning point between the future and the past
Geographically, the balance of power between the two candidates is similar to, for example, the 2017 referendum that introduced a presidential system in Turkey instead of a parliamentary one: Erdogan’s voters live mainly in Anatolia and the Black Sea regions, while Kilicdaroglu has support in the east of Turkey. where the Kurds and the Alevi Muslim sect live (Kilicdaroglu also belongs to it), in the regions along the Mediterranean Sea, in Ankara and Istanbul.
The tongue on the scales
In the second round, of course, voters who voted for the nationalist Ogan in the first round will be the tip of the scales. Before the second round, he met with Erdogan, publicly shook hands with him and called on his voters to vote for the current Turkish president, because Kilicdaroglu is not the right alternative for him.
On the other hand, it is Ümit Özdag, chairman of the Victory Party, the largest party in the party camp that supported Ogan, endorsed Kilicdaroglu before the second round. He is trying to attract nationalist and anti-immigrant voters by promising to deport millions of immigrants and refugees to their countries of origin because they threaten Turkey.
Promises to expel refugees and immigrants
Kilicdaroglu also accused Erdogan of deliberately letting tens of millions of refugees and immigrants into Turkey and deliberately facilitating their access to Turkish citizenship in order to get voters to vote for him.
Kilicdaroglu promises to fight against thieves in Turkey
For now, the polls show that the 69-year-old Erdogan will win the second round: according to Turkish polls conducted after the second round, the current president will get 51.6 to 54.2 percent of the vote, and his 74-year-old challenger from 45.9 to 48.4 percent of the vote.
Erdogan’s camp has a majority in parliament
A big boost for Erdogan before the second round was also the victory of his AKP in the elections to the Turkish parliament or the Grand Turkish Assembly, which were held at the same time as the first round of the presidential elections. In the 600-member parliament, the AKP will have 267 seats in the new convocation. To this must be added the 50 seats that the MHP won and the five seats of the YRP party. Altogether, Erdogan’s camp has a comfortable majority with 322 seats.
Nationalist Victory Party leader Ümit Özdag endorsed Kilicdaroglu ahead of the second round. Among other things, he published a tweet in which he wrote that the second round on May 28 this year will be a referendum on whether 13 million refugees should stay in Turkey or go. If Erdogan wins, they will stay and more will come, if Kilicdaroglu wins, they will leave and there will be no more refugees, Özdag claims:
Perhaps this is also why many undecided voters will surround Erdogan in the second round. If Kilicdaroglu were to win, Turkey would find itself in a politically very unusual balance of power, because the country’s president is also the prime minister after the 2017 constitutional changes. This means that Kilicdaroglu would not have majority support in parliament.
The uncharismatic Kilicdaroglu and the determined statesman Erdogan
If Erdogan does win in the end, it will probably be because voters did not see the right choice in Kilicdaroglu (many consider him to be uncharismatic and no match for the populist Erdogan). In addition, the politically savvy Erdogan has recently presented himself to Turkish voters as a strong statesman who chooses his own path, independent of the wishes of Brussels or Washington.
In case of defeat in the elections, Erdogan announces that the results will be respected
Thus, after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, he maintained contacts with Putin’s Russia and did not introduce anti-Russian sanctions. Moreover, he is trying to establish himself as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev. In addition, in the past months he has effectively blocked Finland’s entry into NATO, and together with Orban’s Hungary, he has completely blocked Sweden’s path to this alliance for the time being.
Erdogan scolds Biden, Kilicdaroglu is harsh towards Moscow
Erdogan also doesn’t like being the American president Joe Biden labeled an autocrat in 2020. On the other hand, Kilicdaroglu promises a tougher Turkish policy towards Russia. He also accused Russia of meddling in the presidential election in favor of Erdogan, which Moscow, of course, denies.
Before the election, Erdogan called his main rival a drunkard
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