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5 May, 2023 16:19

Erdogan rival warns of post-election violence in Türkiye

Kemal Kilicdaroglu has said that his victory might lead to “provocations” and “armed elements” on the streets
Erdogan rival warns of post-election violence in Türkiye

Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has urged his supporters to refrain from public celebrations if he prevails in next week’s election, citing potential provocations and street violence. The politician called on supporters to “stay at home” on election night and wait until the final results are officially announced a day after the vote.

“When we are victorious on election night, no one should go out on the streets,” Kilicdaroglu told the Turkish TV channel KRT in an interview aired late on Thursday. A public demonstration of joy might lead to “provocations,” he warned, adding that his supporters should “create an environment that will not allow this.”

The candidate representing the People’s Republic Party (CHP) also predicted that “armed elements may go out on the streets” following the election. The 74-year-old expressed confidence in his victory, saying he would beat the incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, without needing a runoff.

“It will end in the first round,” he said, adding that a “request for change” comes from the very “bottom” of Turkish society. The aggregated results of 14 polls published by KRT suggest, however, that a second round of voting is likely.

Polls carried out in April showed Kilicdaroglu leading with support of just over 47% of those queried but with Erdogan trailing not far behind at 44%. Those polls showed that the opposition candidate was likely to beat Erdogan in a run-off by securing 52% of the vote.

A more recent survey conducted by the company Turkish Askoy Research and published on May 1 projected an even bigger margin, putting Kilicdaroglu ahead of Erdogan by 47% to 42%.

However, the same poll showed that Erdogan’s AK Party is still slightly more popular than Kilicdaroglu’s political alliance led by the CHP.

Kilicdaroglu has relied heavily on pro-Western rhetoric in his election campaign. In late April, he vowed to revive Türkiye’s EU membership talks, which have been effectively stalled since 2016.

Erdogan, who is running for his third term in office, has to deal with persistently high inflation and a weakening currency, as well as the economic fallout from a series of massive earthquakes that hit Türkiye’s southeastern regions and killed tens of thousands of people earlier this year.