Turkey elections: Close contest between Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu

Turkey will hold its crucial presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, as a united opposition in the country is in a close race with incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The upcoming elections take place while experts consider it unlikely that Sunday’s vote will be definitive.

Many expect the process will require a second vote on May 28 between the two candidates who win the most ballots in the first.

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, the director of the German Marshall Fund’s Ankara office, said the race was about two competing visions.

“For the first time in the 20 years since Erdogan came to power, he’s facing a real electoral challenge which he may actually lose,” the expert said.

Erdogan’s strongest competitor is Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP.

He represents a six-party alliance that aims to put an end to the presidential system established by Erdogan.

Kilicdaroglu is also supported by the country’s pro-Kurdish party, which brings about 10 percent of the votes.

There are two additional candidates competing in the presidential race, including Muharrem Ince, a former CHP leader who lost the last presidential election to Erdogan in 2018, and Sinan Ogan who has the backing of an anti-immigrant nationalist party.

Erdogan is the leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP. He was prime minister for 11 years before becoming president in 2014.

He has been viewed as strengthening Turkey on the international stage and growing the country’s influence.

However, the country’s economic issues have eroded Erdogan’s popularity over the last 18 months.

The economy and high inflation are the main issues of the upcoming elections.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had lashed out at the United States for leading a Western media campaign to manipulate the country’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

In an opposition election rally in the country’s eastern city of Erzurum last week, where the Istanbul mayor was speaking, a large group of protesters began throwing rocks, and more than a dozen people were detained over violence against the opposition rally.

The crucial elections will seriously affect the country’s close alliance with Russia. The elections will also influence some other key issues including Sweden joining NATO amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

Any candidate that can secure more than half the presidential vote is the outright winner, otherwise, the race goes to a run-off two weeks later.

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