President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face unprecedented difficulties in the presidential and legislative elections in Turkey set for this Sunday, which might bring an end to his two-decade reign, according to CNN.
According to polls, Erdogan is in second place behind Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leading opponent. On May 28, there will be a run-off if no contender receives more than 50% of the vote to win the election outright. Less than three months after an earthquake on February 6 that killed more than 50,000 people and caused more than 5.9 million people to be displaced across southern Turkey and northern Syria, voters will determine the future of Turkey's democracy.
CNN said that the elections are also taking place in the midst of a severe economic crisis and what experts claim is a decline in democracy under Erdogan's rule.
Prior to the implementation of a so-called propaganda ban, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held his final election rallies in Istanbul on Saturday. In a final appeal ahead of the biggest challenge to his 20-year rule, Erdogan accused the opposition of collaborating with US President Joe Biden to topple him.
One of his talking themes has been that the opposition would submit to Western countries' desires if elected because they are taking instructions from the West. Erdogan also brought up remarks made by Biden that were reported by the New York Times in January 2020, when he was running for president, at a rally in Istanbul.
According to analysts, this election will see a record number of voters come out, and the battle for president between Erdogan and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and nominee of the six-party Nation Alliance group, will be close.
The Turkish daily Daily Sabah, which cited the nation's deputy foreign minister, said on Wednesday that more than 1.8 million voters who reside overseas had already cast their ballots for the election on April 17.
Demographics in Turkey are also anticipated to be important. The majority of the regions affected by the earthquake in February were Erdogan and his AK Party strongholds. Ahmet Yener, the head of the Supreme Election Council (YSK), however, said last month that at least 1 million voters in earthquake-affected areas are anticipated to abstain from voting this year due to relocation.
CNN said that even if Kilicdaroglu wins the election, some observers believe Erdogan may not cede control to his successor without a fight.
Right-wing Ancestral Alliance candidate Sinan Ogan is running in addition to Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu.
Leader of the centrist Homeland Party Ince said that he withdrew due to a “slander campaign” against him. In Turkey, he has been the target of vile accusations for weeks, and on Thursday, the public prosecutor's office in Ankara said that it had started looking into possible blackmail.
However, his party, Homeland, will continue to run for seats in parliament.
In 2018, the 59-year-old campaigned for president but fell short against Erdogan. He left Kilicdaroglu's CHP in March of this year and entered the presidential candidacy. He originally rejected requests from his previous party to withdraw out of fear that he might sway voters from Erdogan's opponent.
Ince will still be on the ballot despite not endorsing any of the remaining contenders. Kilicdaroglu may benefit from his removal.
According to some commentators, Erdogan may be able to challenge the results if he loses by a slim margin. And if history is any indication, the president and his AK Party would not accept a loss kindly, according to CNN.