Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during his election campaign event in Istanbul, Turkey, May 12, 2023. EPA, ERDEM SAHIN
If the vote among Turks abroad is any indication of what will happen on Sunday, so the case of Belgium does not bode well for the leader of its Islamist neighbour.
In its related analysis, Politico notes: “Street lamps in northeast Brussels are adorned with images of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But in some of them his face is scratched with a black marker.”
Why is Belgium important? Because Turkey is the EU country whose Turkish minority numbers 220,000 people and has historically supported it with fanaticism.
In 2018, Erdogan’s AKP won 75% of Belgian votes. But that level of support seems to be more volatile this year.
There are around 3.4 million Turkish voters abroad, including 1.5 million in Germany alone.
This of course makes Belgium, with its 153,000 registered voters, a relatively small group. “manor”.
But what is happening on the streets of Brussels shows how support for Erdogan has evolved after 20 years of rule over Turkey.
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— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) May 12, 2023
Belgian Turks are rather “unique” in their characteristics as most of them originate from the same rural town (Emirdağ) in central Anatolia and migrated there in the 1960s mainly to work in the mines of Belgium.
“They are very nationalistic and also quite conservative,” and since they are not feeling the effects of Turkey’s economic crisis, they tend to vote for Erdogan mainly for “ideological and religious reasons,” analysts told Politico.
Although there are no polls on the electoral behavior of Belgian Turks, the opposition believes that some views on Erdogan have changed, and support for Erdogan seems decreases.
At the same time, the pre-election confrontation in Turkey unfolds with never-before-seen footage.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu showed up today in a bulletproof vest at a campaign rally because two days before the election there were “reports that he could be the target of an attack”, according to a party source.
In the broadcast footage, Kilicdaroglu’s bodyguards they hold automatic rifles and they are with him on the platform from which he delivered his speech, which this happens for the first time in his election campaign.
A source close to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the 74-year-old opposition leader had donned body armor and his security had been tightened as there were reports that could become the target of attacks.
The source did not provide further details.
Kilicdaroglu, who leads by a small margin in the polls, gave the speech in Samsouda.
Kilicdaroglu, who leads the polls by a narrow margin, delivered the speech at Samsouda on the Black Sea.
In an interview he gave today to Reutershe stated optimistic about his victory in Sunday’s election.
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— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) May 12, 2023
For his part, Turkish Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried today to rally his base.
Erdogan in Istanbul: “The six are thirsty for revenge”
In a traditionally conservative district of Istanbul, Erdogan addressed his supporters this afternoon, then inaugurated a mosque – one of thousands that have been erected under his presidency across the country.
In his speech, he warned that the country “will pay a heavy price” if the opposition, a six-party alliance which he says is hungry for “revenge”, wins the election.
Erdogan, whose popularity has been eroded by Turkey’s financial crisis, was unusually reluctant Thursday night about the results. “The polls will tell us on Sunday“, he replied to a journalist who asked him if he thought of winning.
He also admitted to having difficulty convincing young people (5.2 million Turks will vote for the first time in this election) who, he says, have not known the chaos and corruption of coalition governments. “There is a generation in our country that has not known any of those who made us suffer,” he sums up. “We struggle to explain our values to this new generation. Because our young people don’t compare with old Turkey but with countries that have better conditions,” he said today.
According to opinion polls, more than half of young people would prefer to vote for Kilicdaroglu. As for the Kurds, who also praised the democratization efforts during the first years of Erdogan’s rule, they would now also support his opponent.
Observers believe that what is at stake on Sunday is Turkey’s democratic future. “Erdogan will lose, giving Turkey a chance to restore democracy, or he will win and potentially will remain in power for the rest of his life”commented Soner Tsagaptai, a researcher at the Washington Institute.
Faced with the discontent expressed by part of society, Kilicdaroglu based his campaign on positive messages, avoiding personal attacks against Erdogan to focus on promises to restore economic stability and freedoms. He also surrounds himself with economists who enjoy the confidence of Western investors, as well as former allies of Erdogan, to seduce the nationalist and conservative fringe of the electorate.
The opposition leader stresses that his priority is to return to parliamentarism, in order to close the chapter of the presidency which acquired omnipotence after the constitutional reform of 2017. To do this, the opposition must also win the elections. legislative elections, but opinion polls give the advantage to Erdogan’s conservative alliance. The CHP could still win a majority in parliament if it is supported by the pro-Kurdish party and the leftist parties.
With information from Reuters, AFP Politico
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