Erdogan: Kilicdaroglu: A bookish pensioner pushes Erdogan towards a historic second round in Turkey

ISTANBUL: A retired civil servant few outside of Turkey have heard of has pushed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a runoff election, the first in the country’s post-Ottoman history.
It was a bittersweet result that left Kemal KilicdarogluTurkey supporters are left frustrated after a stormy night of vote counting in Turkey’s most important election of modern times.
Almost complete results showed Erdogan winning 49% of the vote and the leader of the secular opposition around 45%.
Pre-election polls had shown Kilicdaroglu a hair’s breadth from crossing the 50% threshold needed for outright victory.
The lira fell against the euro on investor disappointment that Erdogan’s era of unconventional economics is not coming to an immediate end.
But it still marked a historic feat for the 74-year-old leader of the most powerful opposition alliance to face the man who has never lost a national vote in his two decades of rule.
Kilicdaroglu claimed his own party tallies showed he was in the lead and urged supporters to guard the ballot boxes while the final votes were counted.
“Don’t be afraid of the will of the nation,” he told Turkish election officials on Monday.
The May 28 runoff will offer Kilicdaroglu a chance to reverse a disastrous electoral record that saw him lose his 2009 bid to become mayor of Istanbul and then half a dozen national votes for Erdogan and his ruling party. Islamic origin.
That record nearly beat the six-man opposition alliance when it announced its intention to challenge Erdogan.
The anti-Erdogan coalition agreed to support his candidacy after arguing for a year. They rallied behind him after the result of the first round.
“We win,” tweeted Kilicdaroglu’s nationalist ally Meral Aksener as the outcome became clear.
– No ambitions – The soft-spoken Kilicdaroglu is a study in contrasts with the brash and pompous Erdogan – a populist whose campaigning flair helped him become Turkey’s longest-serving leader.
His silver mane and square glasses give Kilicdaroglu a professorial look that betrays his past as an accountant who worked his way up to head of Turkey’s social security agency.
The campaign saw him ignore Erdogan’s personal attacks and instead highlight the hardships all Turks have endured during years of political and economic turmoil.
One of his key commitments is to hand over to parliament many of the powers that Erdogan has accrued over the last decade of his rule.
He then promises to step down and make way for a younger generation of leaders who have joined his multi-faceted team.
“I’m not someone with ambition,” he said before the vote.
His dream was to “restore democracy” and then “to sit in a corner playing with my grandchildren”.
– Cooking talks – Kilicdaroglu’s support has been helped in large part by a cost-of-living crisis that analysts – and many Turkish voters – pin on Erdogan’s unorthodox economic beliefs.
But he’s backed by a viral social media campaign that circumvents the state’s stranglehold on TV by addressing voters in eye-catching clips recorded from his retro-tiled kitchen.
These one-on-one chats get millions of views and tend to tackle topics that rarely appear in pro-government media.
One of the most famous saw Kilicdaroglu breaking taboos by talking about being Alevi.
The group has been the target of decades of violent repression because it follows a more spiritual Islamic tradition that separates it from Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Erdogan once accused the Alevis of inventing a “new religion”.
“God gave me my life,” Kilicdaroglu said in the video. “I am not a sinner.”
The late-night post racked up nearly 50 million views on Twitter the following morning.
– Steel Edge – Some of his other policies have a more steely edge that evokes the nationalism of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the first and most important leader of his Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Kilicdaroglu promises to return nearly four million Syrians who fled civil war to their homeland within two years.
He said the issue was not one of “race” but of “resources” in Turkey during its economic malaise.
Kilicdaroglu reaffirms this message by recalling his own modest upbringing in the Kurdish Alevi province of Tunceli.
“We didn’t have a fridge, washing machine or dishwasher,” he once said.
Later, he invited reporters to his black apartment to discuss his decision to stop paying his electricity bills.
It was a statement of solidarity with Turkish voters affected by inflation that attempted to bridge political divides.
“This is my fight to claim your rights,” he said next to an old-fashioned lantern that cast a glow on his desk.


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