President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Turkey’s south on Friday, devastated by the Feb. 6 earthquake, to launch his official campaign for re-election, which has been declared high risk for the incumbent head of state, France Press reported. Detailed analysis.
“We are here to serve you, not to give you orders!” he announced to the crowd, wearing sunglasses and the local football club’s burgundy scarf, in front of a housing project launched in Gaziantep province, near the border with Syria.
Six weeks before the May 14 election, the Turkish president is stepping up his promises of reconstruction and helping the victims of the earthquake (more than 50,000 dead, 3 million displaced and hundreds of thousands of families homeless), embracing women of age. and children.
But with an economic crisis and double-digit inflation impoverishing the middle class, and facing the aftermath of an earthquake that destroyed economies and jobs in the 11 affected provinces, it is far from certain that these promises of empathy and rapid reconstruction are enough. .
Against Erdoğan (69 years old), three candidates verified this week by the Election Commission will run with hopes of an opposition victory.
According to a poll conducted by the TAG Research Institute, 51.8% of voters want to see CHP (main opposition party) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu as president, compared to 42.6% for Erdogan.
Klikdaroglu – “Hello, I’m Kemal, I’m coming!” smiles on campaign posters under the slogan – representing a coalition of six parties, from the left to the nationalist right, and with the tacit support of a pro-Kurdish party. HDP (between 10% and 13% of the electorate), whose leader Selahatin Demirtas is imprisoned.
While the head of state travels the country and is ubiquitous on television, Kilicdaroglu, a 74-year-old economist and former top official, addresses every segment of society with video messages on Twitter from his small, dimly lit kitchen — his latest message to conservative women on Thursday garnered 3.3 million views.
Kadınlar omuz omuz durduklırında aradan kimse geçemez. pic.twitter.com/0cEf4du72e
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) March 29, 2023
Since political risk consultancy Eurasia Group announced his candidacy on March 22, the CHP leader has not stopped “expanding his electoral base” (from 30% to 40% of voting intentions) , while Erdogan’s base is collapsing (from 60% to 50%).
“The main challenge for Kilikdaroglu is to win over anti-Erdogan voters – who are in the majority – without inciting infighting within the opposition,” the Eurasia Group assesses.
However, Kemal Kilicdaroglu had to take into account the re-emergence of candidate Muharrem Ince, who was defeated by Erdogan in 2018, and decided to stir the waters.
Ince, who left without greeting his supporters on the evening of the first round of voting, met with the CHP candidate this week with a view to a possible agreement.
But for now, according to political scientists including the Metropol Institute, the turnaround could appeal to young people who criticize the CHP leader for his lack of charisma.
However, the youth vote will be one of the key elements of these elections: 70% of the electoral pool is under the age of 34 and six million young Turks will vote for the first time on May 14.
Finally, a former deputy, Sinan Ogan, from the extreme right, will appear in the first round.
In addition to the severe economic crisis that reduced household incomes (inflation by more than 50% and up to 85% in the autumn), the earthquake caused cracks in the all-powerful state Erdoğan dreamed of.
It took three days to trigger the intervention of rescue teams in the highly-centralized country, and then failures appeared in the distribution of aid, especially tents.
But most of all, the collapse of the buildings exposed the neglect of the real estate and construction sectors, even those that have seen growth under Erdogan over the past 20 years.
The president, who campaigned in 2003 on the ruins of the 1999 earthquake in Izmir (northwest, 17,000 dead), denounced the imperfection of the system and risked paying for the consequences of another earthquake.
He was on March 24 inaugurating the construction site of a future hospital in the heavily devastated region of Antakya (south), when video cameras showed that the building, scheduled to open on May 10, had no foundation. Buildings collapsed like Lego games on February 6, AFP comments, quoted by Agerpres.
Coincidentally, as an omen, the earth shook again (4.6 degrees on the Richter scale) in Gaziantep just hours before the Turkish president’s visit.
Author: Liviu Kojan
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