Illustration photo – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on January 23, 2023.
Ankara – The opposition candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroglu would now win the presidential elections, which will probably be held in Turkey in mid-May. He would beat the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by more than ten percentage points. According to Turkish opposition media, this results from a survey conducted between March 4 and 6. At the same time, Erdogan was still in the lead in a January survey by the same institute. Recently, there has been speculation about whether the government's response to the February earthquake will take votes away from Erdogan. Many criticized the cabinet for slow and insufficient help.
According to a weekend poll conducted in a third of Turkey's provinces with 1,850 respondents, 43.2 percent of voters would now vote for Erdogan and 56.8 percent for Kiliçdaroglu. In a January survey by ORC Araştirma, 42.5 percent of voters voted for the current president and 41.8 percent for Kiliçdaroglu.
The last survey took place in the days when the six opposition parties discussed a common candidate for the presidential elections. On Monday, they announced that they had agreed on the leader of the largest opposition party, the People's Republican Party (CHP), Kiliçdaroglu. He was initially opposed by Meral Akşener, whose nationalist Party of Good (IYI Parti) is now the second strongest opposition party according to polls. Akşenerova promoted Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara mayor Mansur Yavaş as candidates, both of whom are also from the CHP party. In the end, the six parties agreed that Imamoglu and Yavaş would be vice presidents.
It is not yet clear whether Kiliçdaroglu will be supported by the second-strongest opposition party in parliament, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), which is not part of the National Alliance, a group of six opposition parties. HDP claimed at the beginning of January that it would field its own candidate. However, this week on Monday, she said that she could support Kiliçdaroglu. Akşenerová, however, is still against the alliance with the HDP, whose party, like the Turkish government, blames the HDP for an alliance with the terrorist organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Recently, however, Akşenerova has been facing strong pressure from opposition parties to change her negative stance on the HDP, which could significantly help Erdogan's defeat.
The HDP party played a key role in Imamoglu's victory in the 2019 local elections, defeating the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to become mayor of Istanbul. The leadership of Turkey's largest city had been controlled by the AKP for almost 20 years.
In recent weeks, there has been speculation about the extent to which the February earthquake, which claimed more than 46,000 lives in Turkey, will influence the voters' decisions. Erdogan's government faces criticism from many for the slow and insufficient aid, especially in the first days after the February 6 earthquake, but also for the so-called construction amnesties, which local authorities, according to opposition media especially before the elections, granted when building houses for a fee, although the construction did not meet all regulations.
The upcoming elections are seen as the biggest challenge yet for current President Erdogan. He has been ruling the country for 20 years, first he was the prime minister from March 2003, and since 2014 he has been the president. Turkey has been dealing with high inflation for several years, price growth was exacerbated by the energy crisis, and the February earthquake brought other problems.