Erdogan kicks off election campaign with nationalist pledges  

Erdogan kicks off election campaign with nationalist pledges  

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched his re-election campaign ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections with nationalist pledges.

He told an event in Ankara that he would confront foreign “imperialists” holding back Turkey while it marks 100 years as a modern republic.

“We are here to open the door of the Turkish century together with our nation standing up against coup plotters and global imperialists,” the 69-year-old told Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters.

Erdogan has promised to change civil service rules to prevent nepotism in government jobs, despite ruling Türkiye for two decades and overseeing numerous appointments.

Turkey faces soaring inflation and the aftermath of the devastating February 6 earthquakes that left an estimated 50,000 people dead.

Erdogan’s support base is likely to guarantee him a runoff place on May 28 should no candidate win a majority in the first round of voting. 

His key opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74, leads the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP). According to a Metropoll survey, Kilicdaroglu has 42.6-per-cent support, compared with Erdogan’s 41.1 per cent.

Kilicdaroglu comes across as a mild-mannered elder statesman who has overseen numerous defeats as head of the main opposition CHP.

But he now leads a six-party coalition, including the nationalist Good party and two former Erdogan allies, one of whom co-founded the AKP.

Erdogan has been widely criticised for failing to reform Turkey’s shoddy construction practices before the February earthquakes and for botching search and rescue efforts.

Millions of Turks were made homeless across 11 provinces, many of which were AKP strongholds, leading analysts to suggest the election could be decided in eastern Türkiye.

To gain a majority, Erdogan will need some support from around 6.7 million first-time voters born after 2000, Turkey’s ethnic Kurd minority and an urban middle class hit by inflation, which is largely blamed on the president’s idiosyncratic financial policies.

Selim Koru of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey said: “The rural parts of the country are fairly Erdoganist. Most of the political change is happening in the larger cities, probably on the outskirts. The swing voters are probably people who are nationalistic. They still think the opposition is borderline treasonous but they are so devastated by inflation and the economy they will give Kilicdaroglu a chance.”



Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Picture credit: YouTube 

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