As Turkey’s presidential election heads into a potential runoff, tensions are high as incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces off against opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Initial results showed Erdogan with a slight lead over both Kilicdaroglu and another opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu. However, with neither candidate securing the necessary 50% of the vote to win outright, a second round of voting is now set to take place.
The stakes in this election are high, with both candidates offering vastly different visions for the future of Turkey. Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has positioned himself as a strong leader who is capable of delivering economic growth and stability.
However, his critics accuse him of eroding democratic institutions and cracking down on dissent, particularly following the failed coup attempt in 2016.
Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has promised to tackle corruption and promote social justice and equality if elected president. He has also been a vocal critic of Erdogan’s policies, particularly when it comes to human rights and freedom of the press.
As the two candidates prepare to face off in a potential runoff, tensions have spilled over into the streets, with supporters of both sides taking to the streets to voice their opinions.
In Istanbul, police were forced to use tear gas to disperse crowds after clashes broke out between Erdogan supporters and opponents. Similar scenes played out in other cities across the country, highlighting the deep divisions that exist within Turkish society.
Despite the tense situation, both candidates have called for calm and pledged to respect the outcome of the election.
“We call on all our citizens to maintain peace, calm and serenity during this period,” Erdogan said in a statement. “We believe that everyone will act responsibly and show maturity.”
Kilicdaroglu echoed these sentiments, saying that he was prepared to accept the results of the election, whatever they may be.
“As a democratic party, we accept the will of the people,” he said. “We respect the outcome of the election, and we will continue to work for a better future for all Turks.”
With the country on edge and the outcome of the election uncertain, all eyes are now on Turkey as it prepares for a historic second round of voting.
The campaign leading up to the second round of voting is expected to be fiercely contested, with both candidates likely to ramp up their efforts to win over undecided voters.
Erdogan has already started his campaign, holding a rally in Ankara where he promised to continue delivering economic growth and stability if re-elected. He also reiterated his stance on national security and his commitment to fighting terrorism.
Kilicdaroglu, meanwhile, has promised to focus on issues like corruption, social justice, and human rights. He has criticized Erdogan’s handling of the economy, arguing that the president has failed to address rising unemployment and inflation.
In addition to these issues, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is also expected to play a role in the election. Turkey has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the country recording more than 5 million cases and over 44,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak.
Both candidates have pledged to prioritize public health and to work towards overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic. However, there are concerns about the government’s handling of the crisis, particularly when it comes to the rollout of vaccines.
As the campaign heats up ahead of the second round of voting, tensions are likely to remain high. The outcome of the election could have far-reaching implications for Turkey, both domestically and internationally, and it remains to be seen which candidate will emerge victorious.