This could have been Erdogan’s last election following the devastating earthquake in Turkey. Instead, he is on track to win.

The contentious political aftermath of the 1999 Izmit earthquake ushered in the rise to power of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a result, when a second devastating earthquake struck southeast Turkey earlier this year, many observers anticipated that the president’s two decades in power would come to an end.

Erdogan, on the other hand, seems to have defied the odds.

He emerged as the frontrunner in the race that pollsters predicted could unseat him in the first round of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.

He prevailed with a lead of nearly five points over his primary rival, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and missed the 50% threshold by less than half a percentage point. His parliamentary coalition won an agreeable greater part in the governing body.

Sinan Ogan, the third-place presidential candidate, publicly endorsed Erdogan this week, bolstering his chances of defeating Kilicdaroglu in Sunday’s run-off election.

Erdogan told Becky Anderson of CNN in an exclusive interview last week, “It will be the people who will be the kingmakers, and when the people decide, I believe they will stand with those who have successfully served the Turkish nation for the last 21 years.” He described Kilicdaroglu, who was 74 years old, as a political novice. The campaigns of the two rivals have been structured as a variety of contrasts. Kilicdaroglu portrayed himself as the epitome of a technocrat, while Erdogan sought to demonstrate his political prowess by repeatedly praising Turkey’s rapidly expanding defense industry. conciliatory, cool-headed, and soft-spoken.

Kilicdaroglu was supported by six right- and left-wing opposition groups in an unprecedented attempt to unseat the current president and target Turkish voters. They hoped to capitalize on public discontent with the shaky economy and earthquake aftermath. Erdogan, then again, centered around revitalizing his moderate fortresses.

The men closed their political races with a comparable public thrive. Erdogan prayed at the Hagia Sophia, a mosque and former church in Istanbul that the Turkish government converted into a museum in 1934 out of respect for its Ottoman and Byzantine histories. Erdogan was praying there. Erdogan questionably dissolved that choice in 2020, one of the numerous libertarian moves that have peppered his profession.

polarization getting worse

In the interim, Kilicdaroglu denoted the night before the vote by laying blossoms at the burial chamber of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the organizer behind the Turkish Republic who led the secularization of the country.

Turkey’s shifting polarization appeared to be reflected in the optics.

Most of Erdogan’s support seems to have been unaffected by the faltering economy or the government’s shoddy early response to the earthquake, which caused more than 50,000 deaths in Turkey and neighboring Syria. This support is based on religious fervor.

That religious sentiment was widespread outside the headquarters of the AK Party on the night of the first round of presidential votes. I’m apprehensive. Seda Yavuz, a clearly anxious Erdogan supporter, stated, “I am worried about him losing.” I worry that someone else will come out on top. Because we are Muslims and wish to have a Muslim president, I worry.

The Turkish people have my trust. I believe that he will win,” another lady, Gozde Demirci, told CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh.

“This is opportunity,” said the enthusiastic Demirci, highlighting her headscarf. Erdogan lifted limitations on hijab in the public area in 2013, hailing it as the finish of a “dim time.”

She went on to say, “I have this freedom because of him (Erdogan).” This is not what the opposition wants. They don’t need opportunity.”

Mehmet Celik, editorial coordinator of the pro-Erdogan Daily Sabah newspaper, told CNN that pollsters and Western media did not accurately capture support for the current president.

Celik stated, “I think that there was this groundswell that pushed Erdogan’s vote.” He had the option to assemble 49.5% of the vote, notwithstanding every one of the difficulties. Regardless of the reality he has been running for a long time. There is this exhaustion. However, he remains extremely popular.

The opposition camp, according to Erdogan’s detractors, was the target of unsubstantiated allegations, which they claim further mobilized his support base. He repeatedly referred to the opposition leader, a member of the liberal Muslim Alevi minority, as a not-good-enough Muslim and accused Kilicdaroglu of collaborating with Kurdish terror groups.

“This system of ‘bad Muslim and upheld by fear mongers’ spoke to conservative electors that should pick Kilicdaroglu,” said Soner Cagaptay, senior individual at the Washington Organization for Close to East Strategy.

A downward trend

Cagaptay argues that while Erdogan’s message did not resonate in Turkey’s major cities or the relatively affluent southern coast, all of which voted largely for the opposition, it did in the poorer parts of the country, particularly in the central regions and along the Black Sea coast, garner the necessary support.

“There, support for Kilicdaroglu was smothered on the grounds that conservative electors whose own gatherings upheld Kilicdaroglu didn’t pick him,” he said.

Critics argued that Erdogan’s widespread influence over Turkish media amplified his message.

Seren Selvin Korkmaz, executive director of the Istanbul-based InstanPol Institute, stated, “President Erdogan shouldn’t be underestimated because he’s always using political tactics in a very vile way.” He has ensured that he is the only one in the political game by making use of the state’s resources and media power as a whole. There was an unfair playing field. “In any case, the president is on a generally descending direction. Turkey will hold its first second round of presidential elections on Sunday. In the 2019 mayoral elections, Erdogan’s ruling party lost in all of the major cities, including his own hometown of Istanbul. The opposition received the majority of Istanbul’s votes on May 14.

Erdogan reportedly once said, “If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey,” and the president’s personal animosity toward the political status of the country’s largest city stems from this.

Cagaptay stated, “He’s really hurting to take Istanbul.” He adores Istanbul since it represents Ottoman power and Erdogan’s power plan… He needs to make Turkey extraordinary once more. He needs to reestablish Ottoman significance.”

Until further notice Erdogan appears to be ready to endure Turkey’s political and structural movements. Additionally, he has pledged to intensify his implementation of policies that have not only exacerbated the country’s current problems but also consolidated his power.

Cagaptay stated, “The question is not whether he will win (on Sunday), but what kind of win will it be.”

Cagaptay added, “he will be vindicated on unorthodox economic policies, lack of rule of law, and the end of social autonomy” if Erdogan wins by a landslide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *