On Sunday, for the first time in history, Turkey will hold the second round of presidential elections. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. What is known before the second round of the presidential election? Which candidate is more likely to win?
The second round of presidential elections will take place in Turkey on Sunday. This is the first time that Turkish elections have not already been decided in the first. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won 49.5% of the vote in the first round, will run again in the elections. votes, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who won 44.9 percent.
The importance of these elections is enormous – both for Turkey and for Europe and much of Asia. According to experts, the elections made in Turkey are sometimes treated as a barometer of moods in the entire region. “What is happening in Turkey, in terms of democracy and its place in the region, has a huge impact on Europe, Asia and of course all the global issues we are dealing with,” former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the BBC.
– We are currently observing the formation of two great blocs of states in the world: democratic and authoritarian. In simple terms, Erdogan’s electoral victory would bring Turkey closer to the authoritarian bloc, while Kilicdaroglu’s victory would bring Turkey closer to the West, explains Dr. Karol Wasilewski, an expert on Turkey, in an interview with tvn24.pl.
What do we know ahead of the second round of elections in Turkey? What are the differences between the candidates fighting for the presidency and how are their chances of winning assessed a few days before the vote?
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan – 20 years in power
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the 69-year-old leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) he founded, has ruled Turkey since 2003 – first as head of government, and since 2014 as president. He introduced reforms that made the Turkish political system more presidential, giving himself more power. Among the changes he made were: restrictions on press freedom in Turkey and restrictions on the independence of the judiciary, which have raised concerns that Turkey is moving towards authoritarianism.
Before this year’s elections, attention was drawn to Erdogan’s weaker ratings than before, who is blamed, among other things, for about the catastrophic consequences of the recent earthquake, the growing social divisions, as well as the difficult economic situation and rampant inflation. However, Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey for 20 years, can still count on the support of huge crowds of citizens who consider him the only Turkish politician capable of exercising power in the country. His unflagging popularity was confirmed by the best result achieved in the first round of the presidential election.
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Kemal Kilicdaroglu – candidate of the Turkish opposition
Kemal Kilicdaroglu is the candidate supported by the majority of the united Turkish opposition. He is 74 years old and in the past worked as an accountant and financial officer. He became involved in politics at the beginning of the 21st century and for many years was a member of parliament for the Republican People’s Party (CHP). Since 2010, he has been the leader of this traditionally secular, reformist grouping that advocates the separation of the state and the Church. He is considered to be an exceptionally calm and patient man. According to the BBC, he is “the opposite of Turkey’s haughty, powerful president” Erdogan in this respect.-
Kilicdaroglu’s election promises included: restoring the independence of the Turkish judiciary, fixing a severely unstable economy, and resettling 3.5 million refugees from Syria back to their home country. At the same time, he promises all Turks to unite the various factions of Turkish society, repair relations with the West, and even resume accession talks with the European Union. The BBC notes that Kilicdaroglu is one of Turkey’s “most attacked politicians” and was wearing a bulletproof vest at the last rallies leading up to the first round of elections.
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Elections in Turkey – who will win?
Predicting the results of Turkish elections is always very difficult, and Turkish society is the most divided in years. The candidates fighting for power in Turkey are fundamentally different from each other. While Erdogan sought to show off his political prowess and repeatedly praised the country’s rapidly growing defense industry, Kilicdaroglu presented himself as the quintessential technocrat: gentle, level-headed and conciliatory.
One of the latest polls, conducted by the Turkish KONDA studio on May 20-21, indicated 47 percent. support for Erdogan, with 42.2 percent. for Kilicdaroglu. 8.2 percent voters remained undecided, and 2.6 percent. did not plan to participate in the elections. However, experts emphasize that Turkish polls are considered to be credible.
However, the victory of the opposition and removal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power is a difficult task. On May 14, he was just less than half a percentage point short of winning the first-round election. In addition, Erdogan maintains control of the entire state apparatus and there are current concerns that the elections will not be rigged. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the May 14 elections showed a lack of transparency, with Erdogan and the ruling parties having an unjustified advantage over opposition parties that had an unequal campaigning environment.
Both undecided voters and those supporting other candidates in the first round will have a great influence on the outcome of the second round. On Monday, Sinan Ogan, who came third in the first round of the election with 5.3 percent of the vote. (or about 2.8 million votes), he gave his support to Erdogan. According to some analysts, the votes of his voters may decide who will rule Turkey in the coming years. On Wednesday, Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the nationalist Victory Party, Umit Ozdag, gave his support. Ozdag himself did not fight for the presidency, but his party won 2.23 percent. in the parliamentary elections held on the same day.
BBC, CNN, Reuters, PAP, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ERDEM SAHIN
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