Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gearing up for a challenging political battle as the nation prepares for national elections on May 14.
Erdogan, who has effectively governed Turkey for over two decades, is facing stiff competition from joint opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Despite his popularity among conservatives and nationalists, Erdogan’s legacy is now overshadowed by various difficulties, including catastrophic earthquakes, soaring inflation, and an emboldened opposition.
Erdogan rose to prominence in 1994 when he became Istanbul’s mayor, positioning himself as the voice of the marginalized masses.
He later founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ascended to the role of prime minister before assuming the presidency.
However, critics argue that over time, Erdogan’s leadership has become increasingly autocratic, eroding democratic principles.
One notable incident was the government’s swift and brutal crackdown on the Gezi Park protests in 2013.
Subsequently, Erdogan successfully thwarted a coup attempt against his government a few years later.
However, his popularity suffered a blow due to the government’s response to the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey in February, claiming the lives of over 50,000 people.
The economy poses another significant challenge for Erdogan.
Notably, the country has been grappling with eye-watering inflation, with the annual consumer price index (CPI) averaging over 70 percent in the past year.
In an unconventional move, Erdogan has resorted to pressuring the central bank to keep interest rates low, sparking concerns among economists and experts.
As Turks head to the polls, they find themselves torn between their allegiance to Erdogan and the pressing economic realities they face.
The outcome of the upcoming elections will determine the future direction of Turkish politics and the extent of Erdogan’s legacy.