Years of economic crisis have eroded Erdogan’s support
Erdogan’s loss could return Turkey to a secular-democratic past
Opinion polls give opposition leader Kilicdaroglu a slight lead
Erdogan is a master campaigner with a loyal following
ISTANBUL, May 14 (Reuters) – Turks will vote on Sunday in one of the most sweeping elections in modern Turkey’s 100-year history, which could unseat President Tayyip Erdogan after 20 years in power and continue the increasingly authoritarian path of his reign could end.
The vote will decide not only who leads Turkey, a NATO member state of 85 million people, but also how it is governed, where the economy is heading amid a deep cost-of-living crisis, and the shape of its foreign policy. , that unpredictable twists and turns.
Opinion polls give Erdogan’s main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads an alliance of six opposition parties, a slight lead, but if one of them does not get more than 50% of the vote, a second election will be held on May 28.
The election comes three months after earthquakes in southeastern Turkey killed more than 50,000 people. Many in affected counties have expressed anger at the government’s slow initial response, but there is little evidence that the issue has changed the way people vote.
Voters will also elect a new parliament, likely a tense race between the People’s Alliance made up of Erdogan’s conservative Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP) and the nationalist MHP and others, and Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance formed of six opposition parties, including his secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The polling places open at 08:00 (05:00 GMT) and close at 17:00 (14:00 GMT). Turkish election law prohibits reporting results until 9 p.m. Late on Sunday, there could be a good indication of whether there will be a second round for the presidency.
The Kurdish electorate, who make up 15-20% of the electorate, will play a central role, with the National Alliance unlikely to secure a parliamentary majority on its own.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is not part of the main opposition alliance, but strongly opposes Erdogan after the crackdown on its members in recent years.
The HDP has declared its support for Kilicdaroglu in the presidential race. It is contesting parliamentary elections under the banner of the small GroenLinks party because of a lawsuit brought by a top prosecutor seeking to ban the HDP for links to Kurdish militants, which the party denies.
END OF AN ERA?
Erdogan, 69, is a powerful orator and master campaigner who has pulled out all the stops on the campaign trail as he fights to survive his toughest political test. He commands fierce loyalty from devout Turks who once felt disenfranchised in secular Turkey and his political career has survived a 2016 coup attempt and numerous corruption scandals.
However, if Turks oust Erdogan, it will be largely because they saw their prosperity, equality and ability to meet basic needs diminish, with inflation rising above 85% by October 2022 and a collapse of the lira.
Kilicdaroglu, a 74-year-old former civil servant, vows that if he wins, he will return to the orthodox economic policies of Erdogan’s heavy management.
Kilicdaroglu also says he would try to return the country to the parliamentary system of governance, from Erdogan’s executive presidential system that was approved in a referendum in 2017. discord.
In his time in power, Erdogan has taken tight control of most Turkish institutions, sidelining liberals and critics. Human Rights Watch states in its World Report 2022 that Erdogan’s government has reversed Turkey’s human rights record by decades.
If he wins, Kilicdaroglu will face challenges in staying united in an opposition alliance made up of nationalists, Islamists, secularists and liberals.
(Writing by Alexandra Hudson Editing by Frances Kerry)