PRODUCTION – Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Chairman of the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP, Republican People’s Party), recorded during an interview with the German Press Agency dpa in his office at the CHP party headquarters. Kilicdaroglu is considered a possible challenger to incumbent President Erdogan. The CHP is the second strongest force in the country after the ruling AKP. Elections are expected to take place in Turkey in the middle of next year. Photo: Bradley Secker/dpa
‘They say enough is enough. You got tired, retreat. A new era will begin,” said the head of the largest opposition party, CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the DPA news agency. The people of Turkey longed for democracy, freedom and justice.
The parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey are scheduled to take place in June 2023, but could be brought forward. An alliance of six, including the CHP and the national conservative Iyi party, wants to nominate a common candidate against Erdogan. Their goal is to abolish the current presidential system, under which Erdogan has had sweeping powers since 2018. In addition, the judiciary is in many parts under government control, as the EU Commission criticizes.
Former Erdogan confidante and politician of the Iyi party, Turhan Cömez, referred to the general dissatisfaction in the country with inflation exceeding 80 percent. Erdogan has all state institutions and the judiciary in his hands, but he has lost popularity, Comez told the dpa. “People have their hands clenched into fists and are preparing to teach Erdogan a lesson at the ballot box.”
The Islamic-conservative governing party AKP, on the other hand, appears unimpressed by the self-confidence of the opposition. Although the economy is an important issue in the upcoming elections, people still trust Erdogan, according to AKP circles. Polls also indicated that voters did not trust the opposition to improve the economic situation, said Özer Sencar, head of the Metropoll polling institute. He therefore warns Erdogan opponents against being too optimistic. “Erdogan can win against a weak candidate,” said Sencar.
A possible candidate who is considered particularly promising – Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu – was banned from politics in mid-December. If this becomes final, he should not stand for election. Observers rate the step as politically motivated, with the aim of maneuvering an opponent of Erdogan into political oblivion. Erdogan had denied having influenced the verdict.
Kilicdaroglu, who is also traded as a candidate, said with regard to the election that he did not trust Erdogan or the election authorities. He criticized the judiciary as acting “on the orders” of the presidential palace. The opposition is therefore preparing and training thousands of election workers.
According to polls, neither an election victory for Erdogan nor one for the opposition is currently considered certain. In the last elections in Turkey in 2018, around 1.4 million Turks in Germany were also eligible to vote.