Smiling faces in the central Tandoğan square of the capital Ankara, as almost every each of them whom I ask if they would like to comment on elections say “everything will be beautiful,” with a full confidence that the opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will win the critical race to be held tomorrow, on May 14.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader and the presidential candidate of the wide oppositional alliance Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage under pouring rain late on May 12 evening after the alliance’s vice presidency candidates and six party’s leader’s speeches at the Nation Alliance’s last grand rally in Ankara.
“At least we can try,” a participant said after I asked if they believe that Kılıçdaroğlu and his six-party opposition alliance will be able to bring the change they promised to.
“At least we will be able to change them, vote them out if we want to,” she added, emphasizing that the main concern of her in this election is the restoration of democracy that she claimed deteriorated under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party’s 20 year rule.
Excitement and enthusiasm were the prominent feelings in the ground as thousands sung songs and danced, a dissonant atmosphere from the general election air where the security concerns dominate the sphere as Kılıçdaroğlu and his popular vice president candidate and İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu took the stage with their life vests on. The CHP quoted “serious intel” when asked about the vests, stating that their life would be at risk 24 hours before the elections.
The recent polls published on May 10 indicated Kılıçdaroğlu got around 49 percent of the presidential votes while Erdoğan’s vote swing was around 45-47. The preliminary analysis was that two other presidential candidates Muharrem İnce and Sinan Oğan’s votes will be determinant in the chances of Kılıçdaroğlu to be able to win in the first round.
It was the case until İnce, on May 11, with around 2 percent of his votes, announced that he is pulling out from the election race, changing the balances to the Kılıçdaroğlu’s favor.
If there will be a second round if no candidates win the 50 percent, no one knows what the results can be.
Erdoğan first time contemplate loosing
At the hours that İmamoğlu was shouting “we are winning” as the Ankara crowd cheered, President Erdoğan was on screen simultaneously at 20 plus TV stations on a “joint broadcast,” answering the questions of four presenters.
“We came to power democratically, we came to power with the trust of our people. If my nation decides differently, we will do exactly what democracy requires,” he said, answering the recent rumors that he will not accept any results rather than his victory and might resort to radical measures to get the election.
Known with his confident and rather condescending tone, it was the first time Turkish people heard him contemplating losing. But before these words, he has been hinting at July 15 2016 coup attempt, reiterating Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who previously claimed that the opposition’s victory would be amount to “coup of the foreign forces”
“They have already started working to make excuses for their losses. They don’t even trust the ballot committees that include representatives of all parties, including themselve,” Erdoğan said.
“When we will come to power no one will ever see that all TV stations are airing the same content,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, as within the 20 years of AKP rule almost 90 percent of the media has been transferred under the control of the pro-government business people or directly to the government.
It has been a routine for the viewers to see the same content in TV and state-owned, pro-government media outlets. International and domestic human rights organizations have been outspoken about the deterioration of the freedom of speech in the country where censorship prevailed in the media atmosphere.
That fueled the concerns that facing the greatest challenge of his rule, Erdoğan might resort to using the institutionalized censorship tools, such as the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) to control or suppress the social media platforms or communication infrastructure.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has applied to the Supreme Election Court to form a parallel ballot box committee with police force, stirring debate over ministry’s interference to the vote, but his application was refused.
In the following days, the rumors and misinformation on the election mendling shared through social media further fueling opposition voter’s unsettling feelings.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s Russia move
To curb any unrest over ballot box security, six party opposition leaders held a meeting on May 11, just after İnce’s withdrawal.
But before the meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu posted a rather unusual social media post, accusing Russia of being behind the smearing social media campaigns against İnce, fueling debates over the cyber meddling in the election.
The statement later read “We are ready for the ballots,” but calling the voters to be vigilant over their votes in the voting stations tomorrow.
“Everybody should go to the ballot boxes and cast their votes. Because this election is not an ordinary one. We will either bring democracy or throw democracy to the history’s bin,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in the TV show on the night after Ankara rally.
This dissonance between the hope and concern will determine the tomorow’s results.