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Conflicts, Military and WarErdogan is on course to win the second round of presidential elections

Erdogan is on course to win the second round of presidential elections

Erdogan, 69, defied opinion polls and secured a comfortable nearly five-point lead over rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14. But he failed to get the 50% required to win the first round of the presidential race.

Erdogan’s surprisingly strong performance amid a deepening cost of living crisis and victory for an alliance including his conservative Justice and Development Party, MHP and other parties in parliamentary elections , backed the veteran president, who said the vote for him was a vote for stability.

Kilicdaroglu is the candidate of the six-party opposition coalition and leads the Republican People’s Party, created by Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. His side struggled to regain momentum after the shock of Erdogan’s first-round victory.

The election will determine not only who will lead Turkey, a NATO member of 85 million people, but also how it is governed, the direction of its economy after its currency fell to a tenth of its value against to the dollar in a decade and the shape of its foreign policy.

Primary election results showed more than expected support for nationalism, a strong undercurrent in Turkish politics intensified by years of fighting with Kurdish militants, a 2016 coup attempt and an influx of millions of refugees from Syria since the start of the war in 2011.

Third-place presidential candidate Sinan Ogan, an ultra-nationalist, said he supported Erdogan on the principle of “continuous fight (against) terrorism”, referring to pro-Kurdish groups. Ogan got 5.17% of the vote.

Another nationalist, Umit Özdağ, leader of the anti-immigration Zafar party, announced an agreement declaring his party’s support for Kilicdaroglu, after saying he would repatriate the migrants. The Zafar party won 2.2% of the vote in legislative elections held this month.

An opinion poll by the Kunda Research and Consulting Company showed that the expected support for Erdogan in the second round would be 52.7%, against 47.3% for Kılıçdaroğlu, after distribution of undecided voters. The opinion poll was conducted on May 20 and 21, before Ogan and Ozdag announced their positions.

The other important element is the vote of the Kurds of Turkey, who represent approximately 20% of the population.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party endorsed Kilicdaroglu in the first round, but after tilting to the right to win nationalist votes, did not name him explicitly and urged voters to reject ‘one-man rule’. Erdogan’s man” in the second round.

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Polling stations will open at 08:00 (05:00 GMT) and close at 17:00 (14:00 GMT). By the end of Sunday, there should be a clear indication of a winner.

“Turkey has a long democratic tradition and a long nationalist tradition, and it is now clear that the nationalist tradition has won out,” said Nicholas Danforth, nonresident scholar at the Hellenic Institute for European and Foreign Policy (Eliamp). who specializes in Turkish history.

“More Erdogan means more Erdogan. People know who he is and what his vision for the country is, and many of them seem to agree with that,” he added.

Turkey’s president gave his best during his election campaign as he struggled to survive his toughest political test. And the man enjoys absolute loyalty from religious Turks, who in the past felt that secular Turkey was disenfranchising them. Erdogan had already weathered a coup attempt in 2016 and withstood several corruption scandals.

But if the Turks overthrow Erdogan, it will largely be because of their sense of a change in their economic conditions and a decline in their ability to meet basic needs in light of inflation that has topped 85 % in October 2022 and the collapse of the lira.

On the other hand, Kilicdaroglu pledged to return, if he wins, to traditional economic policies and to move away from Erdogan’s policies.

He also said he would seek to return the country to a parliamentary system of government and abolish the executive presidential system which was approved in a referendum in 2017.

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The Eastern Herald’s Arab Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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