The 2023 Turkish General Election: Erdogan’s Toughest Election Battle

2019 Turkish General Election Seats
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Turkey was battered by a massive earthquake in February this year. After the deadly earthquake now it gets ready for the election, which is scheduled for 14th May. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been leading Turkey for 20 years. He previously served as the prime minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014. After that, he has been serving as the 12th president of Turkey to date.

For more than 20 years he and his AK Party have dominated the country’s politics, leaving no room for opposition to come into power. But this scenario seems changing now. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan losing popularity very rapidly, and his political future is now at stake. The official opposition leader of Turkey Kemal Kilicdaroglu has set to emerge as Erdogan’s biggest challenger in the upcoming election.

Kilicdaroglu is famously known as Turkey’s Gandhi. For many years Kilicdaroglu has been trying to project himself as a leader with differences, a leader who is not corrupt. He is running for president as a unity candidate for six opposition parties. Interestingly, Mr. Kilicdaroglu has the backing of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, the second biggest opposition party in Turkey.

On Friday HDP called on voters to must back Erdogan’s main rival. Mr. Kilicdaroglu led a 24-day march for justice in 2017, one of the biggest shows of defiance against Erdogan’s rule. That shows his strong national spirit, which might give him huge leverage against Erdogan.

Various reasons have contributed to the declining popularity of Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

Economic Woes

Turkey’s ongoing financial and economic crisis famously known as the 2018-2023 Turkish currency and debt crisis is at the fore of its reeling economy. The value of LIRA (the official currency of Turkey) is plunging. Since the beginning of 2023, Turkish LIRA has lost 20% of its value against the US dollar. Soaring inflation, rising unemployment rate, and high borrowing cost have led to growing distrust among the citizen of Turkey toward Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The rising trade deficit and Erdogan’s unconventional policy on cutting interest rates despite rising inflation have also contributed to turkeys full-blown economic crises. Turkey’s already battered economy has been worsened by the deadly earthquake that hits the country in February this year. the inefficiency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in tackling all these growing problems has made its people sceptical about his eligibility as president.

Authoritarian state

The centralization of power and the authoritarian approach of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led to the weakening of the credibility of the institution of Turkey. Pundits of global affairs have viewed Turkey as a rather authoritarian state. 2013 Gezi Park Protest and Mr Erdogan’s referendum on transforming turkeys parliamentary system into the presidential system in 2017 have been evidence of Erdogan’s authoritarian rule. Erdogan’s crackdown on the media and press has been continuously intensifying.

Fines have been imposed on various media outlets. In the name of a law criminalizing disinformation, various journalist has been arrested and censorship has been imposed on numerous news sites. This crackdown on dissent shows the intent of Erdogan’s attempt to decide what is true and what is not according to his ideology ahead of the upcoming election.

Erdogan’s Health

Could he be unfit for the office? Such a question has been raising concern over his political career. Recently he walks out of a TV interview in between due to a stomach burn and some health issues. His continuous cancellation of election appearances has raised questions about his health condition. Rumours that he has Parkinson’s disease have gained attention throughout time. this health concern makes the people of Turkey apprehensive about his ability to run for the office of president.

Erdogan’s political career looks shaky now. These reasons are proof of Erdogan’s declining popularity. these can also obstruct his chance of re-election. This upcoming election is going to be a litmus test for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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