Erdogan's moment of truth: Turkey heads to decisive presidential election runoff

While sitting Turkish president heads to vote with clear advantage, opposition rival Kılıçdaroğlu will try to mobilize supporters at the death in bid to secure historic upset

Smadar Perry|
Millions of eligible voters in Turkey will go to the polls Sunday to vote in the election runoff as recent polling suggests incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fortunes are improving and he is expected to cruise to victory.
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Erdogan, 69, heads to the runoff with a clear advantage unlike in the first round two weeks ago when a series of opinion polls showed his main opposition rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, leading Erdogan in some and even surpassing the 50% threshold needed to win the first round outright in others.
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בחירות טורקיה מטה מפלגת השלטון של רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן נאום מרפסת
בחירות טורקיה מטה מפלגת השלטון של רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן נאום מרפסת
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Photo: AFP)
Erdogan ended up beating his opponent by about 5%, and the fact that the results in the ballot box were much more favorable for the incumbent president than the polls predicted gives him a real hope of avoiding an upset from the opposition.
This is another reason that Erdogan arrives for the runoff with confidence as the opposition finds itself again as the underdog.
Yet, some are still expecting or estimating that "there is a possibility of a surprise at the last moment", and Kılıçdaroğlu will snatch the victory due to the growing hostility toward Erdogan.
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כמאל קיליצ'דראולו עצרת בחירות ב טורקיה אנקרה
כמאל קיליצ'דראולו עצרת בחירות ב טורקיה אנקרה
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
(Photo: Burak Kara/Getty Images)
Erdogan aims to remain in power for at least another five years. In the first election round, he suffered a setback when he failed to secure the majority needed for a victory, receiving only 49.5% of the votes compared to his opponent's 44.9%.
However, just days ago, Erdogan surprised Turkish voters when he "accidentally" visited the offices of the third presidential candidate, Sinan Oğan, who managed to gain a significant 5.1% of the vote and pledged to back Erdogan, according to reports in Turkey.
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טורקיה סינאן אואן הגיע למקום השלישי בבחירות לנשיאות תומך ב רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן בסיבוב השני
טורקיה סינאן אואן הגיע למקום השלישי בבחירות לנשיאות תומך ב רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן בסיבוב השני
Far-right presidential candidate Sinan Oğan - throws his backing behind Erdogan
(Photo: AFP)
Both Turkey and the international community are concerned about the country's economic crisis and both runoff candidates offer solutions that are not guaranteed to be successful.
A Turkish businessman hinted Saturday that "Erdogan had enough time at the helm and missed important opportunities." Who will you vote for, the speaker was asked. "I appreciate that in the end I will vote for Erdogan because he is more experienced and knows Turkey's economic issues well, and I hope that the world's leading countries will mobilize to help."
On the other hand, a Turkish academic expressed hope that Kılıçdaroğlu would win, "although his chances are decreasing," he clarified. "Erdogan, after 20 years, is hiding his illnesses, made incorrect decisions and needs to go home. But I know he won't volunteer to leave. He wants to continue."
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בחירות טורקיה מטה מפלגת השלטון של רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן מחכים לתוצאות
בחירות טורקיה מטה מפלגת השלטון של רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן מחכים לתוצאות
Erdogan supporters waiting for the results of the first round
(Photo: Reuters)
And who will you vote for? The academic, who insisted on staying anonymous, said, "I'm staying home for now, but I might go out and vote for Kılıçdaroğlu after all, because I don't want to see Erdogan and I haven't forgotten his wave of arrests against anyone who tried to speak out or express themselves in a way that did not please Erdogan's eavesdroppers."
Many Turkish people fear that if Erdogan wins, the economy will implode even before he completes his next term.
According to a Turkish academic, the local currency tells the whole story. "When Erdogan took power 20 years ago, the dollar was worth 1.3 Turkish Liras. Today, one dollar would get you more than 20 Turkish Liras. Purchasing power is declining."
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