Turkey votes again, with Erdoğan poised to extend his rule

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Turkey votes on Sunday in one of the world̵7;s most important elections this year, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan well poised to extend his grip on power.

He faces Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition coalition, who underestimated opinion poll projections. First round on 14 May,

Erdogan, who has served as prime minister before 2003 and then as head of stateThere is a clear upper hand in the highly polarizing contest, taking place against the backdrop of the devastation caused by the massive earthquake that hit Turkey in February.

“Erdoğan’s power advantage allowed him to advance in the first round, and those advantages will help him reach the finishing line,” said Soner Chagapte, director of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The main theme of the hard race has been the country financial troubles High inflation and a falling currency due to Erdogan’s unorthodox policies.

Erdogan’s critics also say he has undermined his country’s democracy and portray Sunday’s vote as a way-station for a more authoritarian regime.

The president won the first round of the vote with 49.5 percent and 27 million votes – 2.5 million more than his opponent. The coalition led by his AK party also gained control of Turkey’s parliament.

After the first round, in which Kilicdaroglu scored 45 percent, the opposition leader turn towards more nationalist politics, concluding an agreement with the far-right politician Victory Party chairman Ömit Özdağ and promising to deport millions of Syrian and Afghan refugees from Turkey.

But Kılıçdaroğlu proved unable to win the support of Sinan Ogun, the main nationalist candidate, who came third with 5 percent of the vote and who supported Erdoğan instead.

Selhattin Demirtas, a jailed Kurdish politician, called on voters to support Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round, despite the opposition’s nationalist streak.

“If there is no change from the ballot box, it will be a disaster for the economy and democracy. There is no third round of this business anymore. Let’s make Mr Kilikdaroglu president, let Turkey breathe,” he said in a tweet.

Some analysts said the results of the first round reflected the enduring appeal of Erdogan’s populist and Islamist politics, especially for Turkey’s rural areas, which remained more loyal to the AK Party than the country’s largest cities. have turned against the bull for a long time. President

Turkey’s opposition coalition leader Kemal Kilikdaroglu underperformed opinion poll projections in the first round of the May 14 election. Cain Arok / AFP via Getty Images

Critics worry that Turkey’s ties with the West could further weaken under Erdoğan’s rule and that the independence of the country’s media, judiciary and other institutions would decline sharply.

Çağaptay of the Washington Institute said that Erdogan has been helped by “his absolute control over information flow” in Turkey. Most of the media is controlled by business groups close to the president, and about 80 percent of Turks read the news only in their own language.

“He can ‘curate’ the reality for them,” Çağaptay said. “He can frame some of the opposition as being ‘backed’ by terrorists, and I think this is where part of the electorate got stuck – they never got over who should be able to run Turkey better.” going.”