Erdogan’s reign at risk: Turkey opposition gains momentum

ANKARA, Caasimada Online) – Recent polls indicate that the Turkish opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has taken a significant lead against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

With a more than 10-percentage-point advantage, the upcoming elections on May 14th are perceived by many as the most pivotal vote in Turkey’s history. 

The parliamentary race also reveals the opposition bloc, the Nation Alliance, maintaining a six-point lead over Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) and its allies.

Additionally, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) remains comfortably above 10%.

Erdogan’s 20-year rule faces major challenge

Erdogan confronts the most significant challenge to his 20-year reign as Turkey’s president amid a cost-of-living crisis that has eroded his popularity. 

Furthermore, victims of last month’s earthquake have begun reconsidering their loyalty in previous AKP strongholds. 

The forthcoming elections hold significant consequences for Turkey, determining the nation’s leadership and governance, economic trajectory, and potential role in mitigating conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Nation Alliance’s strategy for success

Wolfango Piccoli, Co-President of Political Risk Advisory at Teneo, emphasizes the importance of the Nation Alliance presenting a unified front and offering voters a solid plan to maintain their momentum leading up to the elections. 

“Merely attributing all of Turkey’s issues to Erdogan will not suffice. Historical electoral outcomes have demonstrated Erdogan’s exceptional campaigning abilities; however, recent polls imply a diminishing connection with voters and a decline in his once widespread appeal,” Piccoli told Reuters.

Polls reflect opposition’s gains

Several polls conducted in early March revealed Kilicdaroglu’s substantial lead against Erdogan. 

Aksoy Research, Alf Research, Piar Research, and ORC Research polls consistently demonstrated the opposition candidate’s advantage, with percentages ranging from 55.1% to 57.1%. 

Furthermore, these polls indicated the main opposition bloc’s growing popularity and the HDP’s stable performance.

Earthquake impact on AKP’s popularity

According to a Metropoll survey, the recent earthquakes appeared to have minimal impact on AKP’s popularity.

Results showed that 34.4% of respondents blamed the government for losses during the quake, while 26.9% attributed responsibility to contractors. 

Municipalities ranked third, with 15.4% of contributors assigning blame, and 12.9% selected “all” as their response.

Merve Tahiroglu, who serves as the Turkey Programme Director at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based organization, noted that the opposition alliance is diverse, with each prominent figure within the coalition resonating with a different segment of Turkey’s population. 

Tahiroglu expressed optimism during a panel hosted by the Foundation for Defence of Democracies. 

“At this particular juncture, there is greater cause for optimism regarding the possibility of Turkey’s election resulting in an opposition victory than at any other point in the past two decades,” he said.