Polling stations are open in Türkiye. This Sunday is indeed the second round of the presidential election to close or prolong the Erdogan era.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power for twenty years, is approaching this unprecedented second round as a favorite, facing the Social Democrat Kemal Kiliçdaroglu. Two visions are offered to the 60 million voters of Turkey (the diaspora has already voted) called to the polls until 5 p.m.: stability at the risk of autocracy with the outgoing hyper-president, an Islamo-conservative of 69 years ; or the return to a peaceful democracy, in his words, with his opponent, a 74-year-old former civil servant.
Erdogan against the “democrat grandpa”
The 49.5% of votes that Erdogan collected in the first round on May 14 testified to the broad support given to him, despite the inflation, by a conservative majority. Facing him, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the “demokrat dede” – the grandfather democrat – as this economist by training presents himself, has not been able to capitalize on the serious economic crisis.
President of the CHP – the party of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the republic – Kiliçdaroglu promised the “return of spring” and of the parliamentary regime, of the independence of justice and of the press. But, with 45% of the vote in the first round, he looks like an outsider: despite the repeated support of the pro-Kurdish HDP, he is credited in the polls with five points behind the head of state who already enjoys a majority in parliament resulting from the legislative elections of 14 May.
Sluggish after the first round, as if flabbergasted at not having won the victory that his side thought he had won, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu resurfaced after four days, more offensive than the humble “Mr Everyman” at the start of his campaign. Lacking access to the major media and especially to the official television channels, dedicated to the president’s campaign, he battled on Twitter when his supporters tried to remobilize voters by door-to-door in the big cities. At stake, the 8.3 million registrants who did not come on May 14 – despite a participation rate of 87%.
A vote on a symbolic date
Faced with this discreet man, Erdogan has multiplied the meetings, relying on the transformations he has been able to bring to the country since his accession to power as Prime Minister in 2003, then as President since 2014. Erdogan, who has already noted by three times in one year the minimum wage, has multiplied its campaign generosity, such as these free scholarships promised in extremis to students in mourning after the earthquake of February 6.
The date of this second round, however, comes ten years to the day after the start of the great “Gezi” demonstrations which, from Istanbul, spread throughout the country. First wave of anti-Erdogan protests, they had been severely repressed. Unless there is a surprise, the results expected from Sunday evening will also be scrutinized by Turkey’s allies, in particular within NATO.