The Turks are heading to the ballot box for the second time in two weeks on Sunday with polls showing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is well on his way to extending his rule into a third decade.
Erdoğan defied expectations in the first round of the presidential election on May 14, beat Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who is representing a six-party opposition coalition, and just lacks the majority needed to win outright despite the severe cost of living crisis.
In a pair of surveys released this week, the 69-year-old president has a huge lead over Kılıçdaroğlu.
Sunday’s vote was seen by both Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu as a referendum on Türkiye’s future. Kılıçdaroğlu has vowed to revive the economy by reversing many of Erdoğan’s policies, while also returning the country to parliamentary democracy from the executive presidential system introduced after the referendum in 2016. 2017.
Erdoğan managed to maintain support from pious, conservative voters across the country’s central Anatolia region in the first round of the election by emphasizing family values, the fight against terrorism and his successes in giving Turkey a greater role on the world stage since he became leader in 2003. He also launched numerous personal attacks against Kılıçdaroğlu , who led the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the country’s largest opposition group, for 13 years.
The president’s parliamentary bloc, a coalition consisting of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also exceeded expectations, holding a majority in the legislative branch.
“I support Erdoğan 100%. If I could, I would vote for him 10 times,” said Melek, a 32-year-old mother who teaches the Koran at a private religious school in Istanbul. She said: “I grew up with the CHP mentality until I was 10, and we suffered a lot who wanted to live a Muslim life. “Erdoğan has set us free.”
Kılıçdaroğlu, who initially launched a campaign promising “spring will come” after two decades under Erdoğan’s leadership, turned to a more vigorous campaign, folk tunes. The 74-year-old has promised to deport millions of immigrants, for example, seeking to exploit the frustrations of many Turks over the more than 3 million Syrian refugees who have arrived in the country in recent years. This.
“Of course I voted for Kılıçdaroğlu. He is defending secularism,” said Gülümser, a retired teacher in Ankara. “I know the value of the republic.”
However, Kılıçdaroğlu was dealt a blow when Sinan Oğan, the nationalist power broker who finished third in the first round of elections, recently throw his support stood behind Erdoğan, urging his constituents to support the incumbent.
International election observers said the first round of elections was generally free, but they also noted that the campaigns were far from fair. Erdoğan relies heavily on state resources, providing gifts such as free gasoline and 10GB of internet to students. He also raised wages for public sector workers and raised the minimum wage.
The country’s government-affiliated media covered a string of Erdoğan events, including the opening of a gas processing facility in the Black Sea and the inauguration of a warship.
If Erdoğan wins, giving him another five-year presidency, the focus is expected to quickly shift to the country’s $900 billion economy.
This week the lira hit a record lowcrossed 20 against the US dollar, as investors were concerned about Erdoğan’s unconventional economic policies, which included sharp interest rate cuts despite severe inflation.
An autumn in Türkiye currency reserveshas accelerated in recent weeks, has increased feelings of anxiety among both international and local analysts.
Erdoğan this week said the country’s economy, financial system and banking remained “stable”, adding that unspecified Gulf states had provided financing to ease the pressure.