Turkish Opposition Picks the Man Who Can End Erdogan’s Era | Turkey

The coalition that brings together six opposition parties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chosen a candidate to challenge the current head of state in the May presidential elections. The process of choosing the opposition candidate exposed some problems within the alliance that could favor Erdogan.

In Ankara, about 2,000 people gathered on Monday to hear a speech by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was chosen to be the opposition’s unity candidate for Erdogan.

“Our table is the table of peace”, said Kilicdaroglu, a veteran of Turkish politics who, aged 74, will have the biggest test of a long career in May. “We will govern Turkey with consultations and consensus”, he guaranteed.

Kilicdaroglu, an economist by training who spent much of his life as president of Turkish Social Security, has led the CHP since 2010 and is seen as the architect of deep reform in the party founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but his critics point to the its failure to attract the more conservative electorate, which remains loyal to Erdogan. His discreet profile and career as a bureaucrat are also seen as disadvantages in the face of the current President’s charisma.

Elections scheduled for May 14, which include presidential and parliamentary elections, represent the biggest opportunity in several years for the opposition to succeed in dethroning Erdogan, the man who has ruled Turkey for more than two decades. Although he has modernized the Turkish economy, Erdogan is seen by the opposition and human rights organizations as an increasingly authoritarian leader, reducing the margins for dissent as much as possible.

With the sharp rise in living costs and an inflationary crisis that has lasted for several years now, the opposition seems well on its way to defeating Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ending an era. The impact of the earthquakes that hit the southern region of Turkey, causing more than 45,000 deaths, triggered a broad discussion about the development model favored by the Erdogan government, as well as the promotion of a culture of corruption and lack of supervision in civil construction. , which could also benefit the opposition.

However, the mission to defeat Erdogan is far from simple. In addition to its control over the public machine, the AKP is a well-oiled electoral machine, after two decades with virtually no defeats at the polls. The main exceptions were the 2019 local elections, where CHP candidates won in some of the main Turkish cities, such as Istanbul or Ankara.

The polls point to a scenario of enormous uncertainty, with Erdogan and the opposition candidate fighting for the first place club by club, although with a slight advantage for the opposition, according to Reuters.

The opposition will still have to deal with the internal divisions that were evident during the process of choosing the presidential candidate. On Friday, the leader of the IYI (Good in Turkish) party, Meral Aksener, considered one of the most important politicians in anti-Erdogan circles, broke with the coalition for disagreeing with the choice of Kilicdaroglu as a candidate. Aksener preferred the alliance to support one of the CHP-elected mayors, such as Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu or Ankara mayor Mansur Yavas, as he felt both would be more popular than the party leader.

After a weekend of intricate negotiations, an agreement was reached that should reserve the vice-presidential positions for the leaders of the remaining five parties that make up the coalition and also for Imamoglu and Yavas, despite the fact that the opposition include the promise to end the position of vice president, as explained by the guardian.

The agreement was enough to bring back Aksener’s IYI and maintain the united front that all analysts consider to be decisive in standing up to Erdogan. “Unless the National Alliance manages to build a coherent narrative around this decision and communicate it effectively, and the questions that people ask themselves are convincingly answered, then Erdogan will have a clear path”, says the political adviser Selim Sazak, quoted by guardian.

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