Turkey’s election remains on knife-edge 

Turkey’s election remains on knife-edge 

Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, faces presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14 while many western countries will be hoping for a change of government. 

Six opposition parties have united to back the mild-mannered Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74, as their presidential candidate. 

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party is also supporting him and has not fielded a candidate.

Turkey faces a cost-of-living crisis and is struggling to recover from February’s twin earthquakes that left more than 50,000 people dead amid criticism of Erdogan’s response.

Türkiye has the second-largest army in Nato and it currently blocking Sweden’s application to join the alliance. 

The opposition has pledged to remove the veto ahead of Nato’s annual gathering on July 11. Ünal Çeviköz, Kilicdaroglu’s foreign policy adviser, told Politico: “If you carry your bilateral problems into a multilateral organisation, such as Nato, then you are creating a kind of a polarisation with all the other members of Nato with your country.”

After 20 years in power, first as prime minister and then as president, Erdogan is still Turkey’s most popular politician. 

But inflation fell to 50.5 per cent last month from a 24-year peak of 85.5 per cent in October with Erdogan’s unique fiscal policies seen as largely responsible. 

While central banks normally increase interest rates to address inflation, Erdogan has done the opposite while increasing pensions, civil service pay and the minimum wage.

The opposition coalition pledges to reboot Türkiye’s international relations.  

“There will be a change from an authoritarian single-man rule, towards a kind of teamwork, which is a much more democratic process,” Çeviköz said. “Kilicdaroglu will be the maestro of that team.”

Kilicdaroglu pledges to implement European Court of Human Rights calls for the release of two prominent political prisoners: the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş and rights defender Osman Kavala.

“This will simply give the message to all our allies, and all the European countries, that Turkey is back on track to democracy,” Çeviköz added.

Presidential candidates need more than 50 per cent of the vote to win outright or they will face a runoff on May 24. 

Centre-right candidate Muharrem Ince is likely to split the opposition vote, making a runoff likely. 

Erdogan is allied with the Nationalist Movement Party and in late March he agreed electoral pacts with two Islamist parties: Huda-Par, which wants to end relations with Israel, and Yeniden Refah, which wants education to prioritise spirituality alongside science. 


Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Picture credit: YouTube 



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