The winner of the presidential race will assume extraordinary powers that were narrowly approved in a referendum last year. On June 24th, for the first time in their country’s history, Turks will head to the polls to elect both parliament and president on the same day. The vote, which will take place under a state of emergency now entering its third year, has been billed as the most important in decades. Erdoğan is favoured to win.
Today, Mr Ince’s, main opposition’s candidate (CHP), growing popularity and Mr Erdogan’s surprisingly weak campaign mean an upset is no longer inconceivable. Mr Ince would have a chance if he can force Mr Erodgan into a runoff and then inherit practically all the voters of Mrs Aksener and Mr Demirtas. But that will not be easy.
Erdogan has consolidated power at every step of his career. He has crushed anti-government protests, and in 2013 he evaded a corruption investigation into his inner circle. After a failed military coup to remove his government from power in 2016, he eliminated his opponents by firing tens of thousands of government workers, gutting public institutions, jailing critical voices, and clamping down on the media. He narrowly won a referendum last year that will change Turkey’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency, giving whoever wins Sunday’s vote sweeping new powers.
Turkey today is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, ahead of China and Egypt. Seventy-three were imprisoned in 2017 alone and more than 120 have been jailed since a failed coup attempt in 2016. Hundreds have lost their jobs in the aftermath of the coup, while allies of the government have bought up most of the country’s news outlets to transform the vast majority of the media into a loyalist press, Guardian reports.
Cumhuriyet journalists were detained in October 2016 as part of a sweeping crackdown by the government on dissidents. Twelve were arrested in dawn raids, and the chairman of the newspaper’s board, Akın Atalay, returned from a trip to Germany to turn himself in, all accused of aiding terrorist groups.
But despite the perpetual state of crisis, Turkish voters have turned out in droves to opposition rallies, energising a contest whose outcome two months ago seemed to be pre-ordained. Unexpectedly dynamic campaigns by Muharrem İnce, the main challenger, and the breakaway nationalist Meral Akşener have revitalised a moribund opposition movement that has lost election after election.
The Turkish citizen who resides in Belgium had stirred outrage on social media this week when she shared photos showing her casting votes both in the Turkish Embassy in Belgium and at the customs gate of Adnan Menderes Airport in the western Turkish province of İzmir.