Turkey’s Opposition Supports Kilicdaroglu as Presidential Candidate
Turkey’s Opposition Supports Kilicdaroglu as Presidential Candidate. PHOTOS/Anadolu Agency
ANKARA – Turkey’s opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu (74) has been named as the main challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. The designation comes after days of wrangling by the six-party alliance over the nomination.
“Our table is a table for peace. Our only aim is to bring this country to a period of prosperity, peace and joy,” Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told some 2,000 people gathered in Ankara Monday (6/3/2023).
The head of the country’s second largest party will seek to beat the president on May 14 in a close race. The opposition is seeking to overturn many of Erdogan’s policies on the economy, civil rights and foreign affairs in what many see as the most important election in the republic’s 100-year history.
Kilicdaroglu could capitalize on years of economic crisis and soaring inflation, as well as last month’s devastating earthquake in the south that killed more than 46,000 people and prompted criticism of the country’s response.
However, there are doubts that the former economist who rose through the ranks as a corruption fighter can beat Erdogan, Turkey’s longest-serving leader whose campaign charisma has helped him win more than a dozen election victories.
Five parties in the opposition coalition had approved Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy on Friday, but the bloc split after Turkey’s far-right IYI Party leader Meral Aksener warned that the combined candidate risked losing the election.
The IYI Party’s proposed presidential candidates – Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas, CHP mayors of Istanbul and Ankara respectively – were not accepted by the other five parties.
Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Ankara, that Kilicdaroglu “is known to have lost almost every election” he has contested. However, his popularity soared after he staged a “March of Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul in 2017 to protest the crackdown on journalists and academics following the attempted coup.
Koseoglu said the IYI Party opposed the candidacy after polls showed Imamoglu and Yavas had a better chance of winning.
After a tense 72 hours, the alliance met again on Monday and accepted IYI’s proposal that Imamoglu and Yavas would later be named vice presidents.
In his speech, Kilicdaroglu said the leaders of the other five opposition parties would also serve as vice president.