Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Turkish opposition unites to face Erdogan in presidential election

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The deal, which aims to avoid dispersing opposition voices in hopes of ending Erdogan’s two-decade rule, provides for the appointment of Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

“We would have killed ourselves if we were divided,” Kilicdaroglu told a crowd of supporters after hours of tense talks between opposition parties ended.

We will work together to ensure the strength of morality and justice, he said, adding, “We, as a coalition of nations, will lead Turkey on the basis of consultation and reconciliation.”

The 74-year-old opposition leader, who belongs to the Alevi minority, insisted that “law and justice will prevail”.

Erdogan faces a decisive test in elections that many consider the most important in Turkey since the declaration of the Republic nearly a century ago.

The 68-year-old president must overcome two obstacles: an economic crisis and a devastating earthquake to try to stay in power after more than two decades in power.

Polls suggest that the contest for the presidential election will be tough.

Ahead of the deal, Erdogan’s task appeared to have eased a bit, with a key leader of the six-party opposition coalition pulling out of Friday’s talks.

Merel Aksener felt that Klikdaroglu did not have the popular support to defeat Erdogan in the presidential election.

The politician urged the opposition to appoint a Republican mayor of Istanbul and Ankara.

The two met Aksener on Monday in an attempt to push back on his nationalist Good Party.

Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas told reporters after the meeting, “Our nation cannot tolerate division.”

In turn, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said that preserving the alliance was “important, especially in the difficult days that Turkey is going through after the earthquake.”

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Economic beliefs

The last time the opposition came together to oust Erdogan’s allies was in the 2019 municipal elections.

Its ability to regain the mayoralty of the country’s two largest cities has dented Erdogan’s halo and paved the way for a possible return to power of the party of secular state founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Kilicdaroglu previously argued that Yavas and Imamoglu should remain in their posts as mayors, which would return to the administration of Erdogan’s party to avoid new elections.

All six opposition leaders agreed in a separate speech on Monday to leave the door open to appointing either Yavas or Imamoglu as vice president once the transition to a new power system is complete.

This comes in light of a decline in Turks’ support for Erdogan after he adopted a monetary policy that contradicted the traditional economic approach in late 2021, when he decided to cut interest rates significantly in an effort to control inflation.

His policy led to a monetary crisis that wiped out citizens’ savings and brought the annual inflation rate to 85%.

Following the opposition announcement, Turkish corporate shares and Eurobonds alike rose as investors hoped the coalition candidate would defeat Erdogan and return to traditional monetary policies after years of turmoil.

Kilicdaroglu promised to give the central bank back its full independence and the freedom to raise interest rates if successful.

Erdogan apologizes

The Turkish president’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine won him praise and increased support.

However, last month’s devastating earthquake, which killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey and more than 6,000 in Syria, threatens to end his political career.

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Erdogan acknowledged his government’s slow response in the critical early days of the crisis and asked voters to accept his apology for some delays in bailouts.

The Turkish president denied rumors of postponing the referendum to a date that would be more convenient for him from a political perspective.

“We don’t hide behind excuses,” he said last week.

“We will not rest until normal life resumes in the earthquake zone,” he told a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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