Turkish elections: what are Erdoğan’s chances?
A close race is emerging in the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey on 14 May: CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and his opposition alliance have good chances of beating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AK Party, who have been in power for two decades. Commentators follow the duel with bated breath.
Time for a change
Erdoğan’s cancelling a campaign appearance because of health problems sends a clear signal, The Observer comments:
“Erdoğan, 69, has ruthlessly wielded power, as prime minister and president, for 20 years. His carefully cultivated image is of a tough, indestructible leader. Yet suddenly he appears frail. Ministers insist that his illness — he has previously had intestinal surgery — is nothing more serious than stomach flu. ... Whatever the truth, the episode has added to a growing sense that an authoritarian figure who has come to dominate almost every aspect of Turkish life, personally dictating domestic, security and foreign policy, is due a reckoning — and that it’s time for a change.”
Don’t be too quick to write off the incumbent
Despite growing support for his challenger Erdoğan hasn’t lost the battle yet, Le Temps insists:
“His increasingly obvious return to a closed and exclusive political Islam, his eccentric about-turns, the repression of intellectuals, opposition figures, the media and all those who could potentially outshadow him in recent years have not damaged his great popularity. It remains intact among large sections of the population. Even combined with the extremely poor economic results, which the Turkish government tried to conceal for as long as possible, these obstacles, although numerous, may still not be enough.”
Talk of a coup is intimidation
Yetkin Report is worried by the fact that the Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has described the elections as a political coup:
“Calling elections — the most legitimate foundation of a democracy — a coup represents a new dimension. Because by espousing such an extremely anti-democratic view you can count everyone who doesn’t work for President Tayyip Erdoğan in the election — so at least half the population — as coup plotters. ... Is this a message from the interior minister to opposition voters two weeks before the election: ‘Even if we lose power because of your votes, we won’t give it up’?”
Success only in foreign policy
Above all, Turkey’s next government will have to cope with the economic crisis, historian Mihály Dobrovits writes in Élet és Irodalom:
“The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the accession of Finland and Sweden to Nato have given Ankara increasingly good cards. However, failures in domestic policy and economic policy and the catastrophic earthquake in February have countered these successes. ... Whoever wins the election will have to take over a country that is in a promising foreign policy situation and a profound economic crisis.”