- Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will face incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the presidential elections scheduled for May.
- This was announced by an opposition alliance of six parties in Ankara.
- The pro-Kurdish party HDP could also imagine supporting Kilicdaroglu.
The Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections were actually scheduled for June. But Erdogan has announced that it will be brought forward to May 14.
For the president, who has been in power for 20 years, the elections are seen as a test. According to polls, his re-election is anything but certain.
Turkey is struggling with massive inflation and high unemployment. After the severe earthquakes a month ago, criticism of Erdogan’s government’s crisis management was also raised.
Difficult candidate finding
The anti-Erdogan alliance almost broke up over the candidate question: Meral Aksener, the head of the second largest party in the association, initially canceled the cooperation – and then surprisingly took part in a meeting in Ankara with five other parties.
The reason for the dispute was the question of who should run against Erdogan in the presidential elections planned for May 14. The largest opposition party, the CHP, wanted to nominate its party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and was supported by four smaller parties. Aksener from the national conservative IYI party made it clear that she did not support it. She felt that Kilicdaroglu had a poor chance and wanted to nominate Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu or Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas.
According to the IYI party, a compromise has now been found: Kilicdaroglu is to be nominated as a candidate as planned, and the two mayors are to be appointed vice presidents if they win the election.
Skilled mediator and EU supporter
Kilicdaroglu has led the opposition for almost 13 years. However, under his leadership, the CHP has not yet been able to win an election against Erdogan. Kilicdaroglu is a supporter of EU membership and advocates a nationalist course on migration issues. Critics accuse him of not being charismatic and not a leader like Turkey needs.
On the other hand, the 74-year-old thinks the Turks have had enough of Erdogan and his leadership style. In an interview with the German news agency DPA in December, he called for a “reasonable” policy. Although he is considered a poor campaigner, he is also a good mediator with diplomatic skills and a willingness to compromise.
Pro-Kurdish party could support Kilicdaroglu
According to polls, Kilicdaroglu is also popular with Kurdish voters and could receive votes from this camp. It is also expected that the pro-Kurdish party HDP will not field its own candidate.
The Vice President of the HDP, Mithat Sancar, said in a live broadcast of the private broadcaster Haberturk: ”Our clear expectation is a transition to a strong democracy.” According to Sancar, if one agrees on basic principles after “clear, open talks”, one can support Kilicdaroglu in the presidential elections.