Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the main presidential election on Sunday.
Erdogan, who has ruled the country for more than 20 years, is favored to win another five years after narrowly missing victory in the first polls on May 14.
The incumbent president received 49.5 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu scored 44.8 percent in the first run. A third candidate, Sinan Ogan, an unknown figure to the Turkish public, won 5.2 percent with the backing of an ultra-nationalist alliance.
However, in an unforeseen political disagreement, Ogan chose to support Erdogan in the second round, while the ATA alliance that supported him threw itself behind Kilicdaroglu after reaching a deal.
The surge in Nationalist votes on the first ballot and the Nationalist nature of the third candidate and alliance had a significant effect on the election campaign during the two-week interlude before the second round.
The election agenda has shifted visibly from the crisis-hit Turkish economy and the relief of the earthquakes in February, which killed tens of thousands, to topics such as “terrorism” and the plight of refugees in the country.
Here’s a rundown of the two candidates’ policies, promises and rhetoric on key issues:
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- ‘Terror’: The president has consistently pursued sharp rhetoric against “terrorist” groups during the campaign period, keeping security issues high on the agenda in an apparent effort to attract nationalist votes.
He often claimed that his opponent is backed by “terror groups” such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging war for autonomy since the 1980s, and the Gülen Movement, Erdogan’s former ally turned nemesis and accused of a coup in 2016. attempt.
During his campaign, Erdogan has said his government will crush these groups.
“Our fight against all malicious networks, including the separatist terrorist organization PKK and its extensions, will continue with determination,” he said in a public speech earlier this week, adding that the PKK “could not move” in Turkey because of its efforts. .
- Refugees: Erdogan has promised to return about a million Syrian refugees to their homeland after implementing housing projects in Turkey-controlled northern Syria, without giving a specific timeline.
He also said improving dialogue between Syria and Turkey through Russian mediation efforts will help increase the “voluntary” return of refugees.
Erdogan has often accused the opposition of discriminating against the refugees in the country, which is hosting 3.4 million of them, according to official figures.
Kilicdaroglu “is trying to save the day with hate speech,” the president said in a recent interview.
- Economy: Erdogan has pledged to continue his unorthodox economic policies, including keeping interest rates low despite hyperinflation and a cost-of-living crisis.
He has said he aims to bring inflation levels back to 20 percent by 2023 and below 10 percent by 2024, but added that his government would continue to cut interest rates.
“I have a proposition that interest rates and inflation are directly proportional,” he reiterated after the May 14 polls. “The more you lower interest rates, the lower the inflation rate. My theory here is that interest is the cause, inflation the effect.”
- Earthquake relief: Erdogan has promised to provide the survivors of the earthquake in Southeast Turkey with home loans with a term of 20 years and a two-year grace period.
His government aims to build a total of 650,000 new flats in the region and promised to deliver 319,000 of them within a year.
The Turkish president also announced that he will set up important production facilities for the defense industry in some of the earthquake-hit provinces.
- ‘Terror’: The presidential candidate has made “terrorism” one of his main topics during the two-week break between votes.
He has commented on how Erdogan’s government and the Gulen organization were former allies, and how Turkey and the PKK have held talks with the president’s approval in the past.
On television and social media, he promised to fight all “terrorists”.
“Terrorism will be fought, not negotiated. No political and legal settlement aimed at the national and unitary state structure of Turkey will be allowed,” said a May 24 protocol signed between Kilicdaroglu and the Victory Party, which led the nationalist ATA Alliance.
- Refugees: Kilicdaroglu has ramped up anti-refugee rhetoric after the initial polls in an apparent attempt to attract nationalist votes.
The candidate promised to return refugees in Turkey to their homeland within two years before the first elections through an agreement with the Syrian government. The Kilicdaroglu-Victory Party protocol reduced this to one year.
In a YouTube show aired earlier this week, he said the repatriation process will be conducted under certain rules and that the European Union would have to fund it because of an ongoing refugee pact between the two sides.
“We will create the infrastructure for this process. We will ensure their safety [refugees’] lives and property and then send them over,” he said.
- Economy: Kilicdaroglu has pledged to bring back conventional economic policies, including rational interest rates, to combat the country’s crippling hyperinflation, regularly condemning Erdogan’s policies of low interest rates.
The presidential candidate has said he will work to attract foreign investment to Turkey as he works to create a country that produces high-quality products.
He claimed he could attract as much as $300 billion in investment from abroad, saying investors only want democracy and trust in Turkey to invest.
Kilicdaroglu has said that he will ban the sale of houses to foreign citizens until Turkey’s housing crisis, caused by hyperinflation, earthquakes and other factors, is resolved for the Turks.
- Earthquake assistance: The opposition leader has promised to provide free housing to earthquake survivors who lost their belongings in the disaster.
Kilicdaroglu has said he plans to turn earthquake-hit provinces into a manufacturing base, adding materials needed to build new homes in the region.
“Once the wounds are healed, this region will become one of the largest production regions in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Africa,” he said recently.