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NewsOn the eve of the second round of presidential elections, Istanbul is living its normal life. Report of...

On the eve of the second round of presidential elections, Istanbul is living its normal life. Report of the correspondent of “RG” of the capital of Turkey

The procession, however, does not look much like that of the presidential election, but Recep Tayyip Erdogan was indeed in Istanbul at the end of the week – he ended his electoral campaign on the eve of the second round of elections scheduled for May 28. “This Sunday we will probably make the most important choice of our lives. We have to make a decision that will affect not only us, but also the future of our country, our children,” he said during a meeting with women at the town hall. congress center.

Sunday’s vote will be truly decisive, and its results could seriously change the political course of the country. Erdogan’s rival, opposition coalition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, called the second round of Turkey’s presidential election a “referendum”. He therefore seemed to want not only to emphasize the importance of the elections, but also to invite as many of his supporters as possible to vote, and in particular young people. It is the youth vote, according to forecasts, that will largely depend on the outcome of the elections. The opposition leader’s choice of words, however, angered Erdogan’s camp. “If we hold a referendum, then we have already won it in the first round,” Turkish Industry Minister Mustafa Varnak told TVnet. According to Varnak, what is happening in the country right now is “a race in which two people go against each other”, and Kılıçdaroğlu, calling it all a referendum, just shows how weak his opponent is.

For such statements, supporters of the outgoing president have every reason. So far, everything speaks in favor of Erdogan’s victory in the next vote. This week, he was supported by far-right presidential candidate Sinan Ogan, eliminated in the first round. According to sociologists, this should increase by at least a few points the gap of nearly 5% between the incumbent president and the leader of the opposition.

True, one of the members of Ogan’s right-wing coalition, the leader of the Victory Party, Umit Ozdag, on the contrary, went over to Kılıçdaroğlu’s side. Ozdag said he was impressed by the opposition candidate’s promise to expel all refugees from Turkey. “I closed my eyes and it seemed to me that I was speaking,” he commented on Kılıçdaroglu’s statements. But they also say that if they win, the opposition has promised Ozdag’s party three government seats.
However, in central Istanbul, this tense political struggle is only remembered by rare election posters and the daily increasing exchange rate of foreign currencies. Both presidential candidates promise to fight inflation, albeit in different ways. Erdogan intends to continue the current government policy aimed at lowering interest rates, while Kılıçdaroğlu plans, on the contrary, to raise these rates. But ordinary Turks, apparently, do not believe too much in the economic promises of politicians and, just in case, stock up on foreign currency.

“Terrorism will end”, promises the leader of the opposition on a large poster on the quay of the Golden Horn. Terrorism is another central theme of these elections. The two candidates also promise to fight it resolutely, but at the same time, in the best traditions of all political campaigns, characteristic not only of Turkey, they accuse each other of having links with the recognized Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist and the Gülen movement. .

Kılıçdaroğlu’s pre-election publicity in Istanbul is clearly dominant, which, apparently, is due to the political preferences of the local electorate. In the first round of elections, the opposition won here, although by a small margin. But to understand all this without knowing the statistics is quite difficult.
In the evening, Istanbul is bogged down in traffic jams, reinforced police brigades appear in Taksim Square, and a police helicopter begins to circle in the sky. But otherwise, nothing changes. Istiklal walking street is filled with relaxed people. Shops are crowded with tourists, there are no free tables in cafes and restaurants, live music can be heard in the alleys. Typical Friday night. Kılıçdaroğlu peeks swaying at many passers-by from above, from a banner at his party office. With each breath of wind, the face of the leader of the Turkish opposition changes expression, passing from a condescending smile to a severity calling for responsibility.

But the Turks have yet to live up to these strict calls. Citizens will show their responsibility on Sunday, when they go to polling stations – interest in elections, according to statistics, is very high in the country. However, even a high turnout no longer gives Kılıçdaroglu much hope. “The opposition has not read society correctly”, say Turkish sociologists and almost unanimously predict that Erdogan will win the second round. A few blocks from Istiklal, on a large poster, the incumbent gazes into the distance with a somewhat weary gaze. Part of her face is covered by a tree which, at dusk, looks like a bouquet of flowers. It seems that he is already celebrating his victory.

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