Two days before the critical run-off for the presidential elections in Türkiye, things got quite odd in the country.
Two candidates of the second round of the elections, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader and six party opposition alliance’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were on screens one day apart on May 24 and May 25.
The difference between the two broadcasts was that in the first one, we watched an opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu responding to all kinds of adverse questions without losing his courtesy. The CHP leader’s move to appear at this social media broadcast, which was viewed 21 million times within 2 days, had been regarded as a political bargain because the program is based on politicians answering questions of their dissidents, especially young people for an 8-hours-long interview.
In the second one, we watched the president of the country on a joint broadcast on TV, answering probably pre-written questions of the journalists who did not push him and even corrected him when the president gave unwanted answers.
Particularly noteworthy were Erdoğan’s remarks on TV about how he would deal with the economic crisis, which he had managed to distract voters from with his election strategy:
“Our banking and finance system is very healthy. There were countries from the Gulf that deposited money into our system. This is new. This, of course, inevitably relieved our Central Bank and our market, albeit for a short time,” he said on live TV, adding “When we close the election on Sunday, you will see how these leaders will come here or how I will go to express my gratitude to those leaders.”
Debt of gratitude for election support
He said that if the Turkish president wins again, he might go to the Arab countries of the Gulf, which supported the AKP government by “storing” their money in Türkiye during the election period, to repay a debt of gratitude. Perhaps he would also have to include Russia.
Of course, this support was not unrequited. It shows that the countries that support Erdogan hope to benefit from the continuation of the Erdogan era in Türkiye.
On the other hand, on the day Erdoğan made this statement, while the interest rates charged by banks reached 30 percent, while those in need could not find US dollars for 23 liras, the Central Bank was further depleting its foreign exchange reserves and keeping interest rates at 8.5 percent in order to keep the dollar, which had risen above 20 liras twice in the last two days, below 20 liras.
Among the oddities we have seen in the past few weeks are the results published and not published by the polling companies.
Almost all of the polling companies that showed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu ahead in the first round are now showing President Erdoğan ahead.
There may be several reasons for this. For instance, at least some of the polling companies may have taken a “just in case” stance. Or they may have all made serious miscalculations in the first round. Although this may lead to a lack of confidence that they are getting it right now, the biggest poll is two days later, on May 28th, isn’t it?
The third factor should be explained by voter behavior. Before the first round, I was of the opinion that whoever wins the parliamentary majority will have a big advantage in the second round.
I still think so.
Where are we heading to?
Kılıçdaroğlu’s room for maneuver was no longer determined by the parliament, but by the limits of the anti-Erdoğan front, and he tried to expand this base.
The election race had already turned into a mathematical calculation case before the first round. Ideological preferences take a back seat in such cases.
This is why AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik could not believe the Kurdish-issue focused People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) continued support after Kılıçdaroğlu’s deal with nationalist Ümit Özdağ.
We are going to May 28th under the shadow of debates on voter registers and ballot security.
So, which path will Türkiye and we take on the centenary of the Republic? Will the Turkish President go on a tour of gratitude to Arab countries, or will he say, “It is over, the new era begins”?
It is not too late to decide. These two days give us one last opportunity.