Erdogan honors the Islamic hero Adnan Menderes on the day before Turkey’s election.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, pays tribute to his Islamic predecessor who was put to death on Saturday. He does this to rally his conservative base before a historic runoff vote.
Erdogan’s trip to the Adnan Menderes mausoleum in Istanbul brings him back to the man he talked about when he called early elections for May 14 to make it easier for him to rule for an unheard-of third decade.
After the military staged a coup in 1960 to put Turkey back on a more secular path, Menderes was put on trial and hanged the next year.
In 2016, Erdogan avoided a coup against his own government.
In January, the 69-year-old man told his fans that he wanted to continue Menderes’s fight for religious rights and nationalist causes in the 85-million-person republic, which is officially secular but mostly Muslim.
On the day before the first round, Erdogan also made a symbolic trip to the famous Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul.
The fact that he turned the old center of Eastern Christianity into a mosque in 2020 made him even more of a hero among the poor and rural people who have helped him stay in power since 2003.
Erdogan beat Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the conservative opposition, by almost five points two weeks ago.
But because he didn’t get more than 50% of the vote, Turkey had to have its first election rerun. This showed that support for Turkey’s longest-serving leader has been slowly going down.
“They are scared.”
Kilicdaroglu is trying to bring back to power the secular party that ran Turkey for most of the 20th century. He has focused his campaign on more pressing issues.
He said that Erdogan’s government was blocking his mass text messages to voters in an unfair way during a late-night TV talk on Friday.
“They are afraid of us,” said the 74-year-old man who used to work for the government.
The event shows what people who back the opposition have been saying for years. Many of them are liberal secularists who live in big cities like Istanbul and Izmir.
On election day, the polls in Turkey were thought to be free, but witnesses say they were far from fair.
“These were competitive but still limited elections,” said the head of the OSCE election observation mission, Michael Georg Link, after the first round.
Link said, “The criminalization of some political forces and the detention of a number of opposition politicians stopped full political pluralism and made it harder for people to run for office.”
Making up false news
Erdogan’s first ten years in power were marked by strong economic growth and good ties with Western powers, which made him more well-known around the world and gave him more support at home.
His second term started with a scandal about corruption. This was followed by a political crackdown and years of economic turmoil, which took away many of the early wins.
Erdogan consolidated his power by making sure that the government and its business partners controlled almost all of the media.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that in April, Erdogan got 60 times as much coverage as Kilicdaroglu on the state-run TV station TRT Haber.
“They have taken over all the institutions,” Kilicdaroglu said in his TV interview. “This state needs to be rebuilt.” On Friday, Erdogan used his own TV talk to criticize how the election was covered in the West.
“All the attention of the Western media is on us. Erdogan said, “They care more about the elections in Turkey than in their own countries.” “But they always make up false stories.”
With the vote comes more worry about what will happen to Turkey’s economy and how stable its banks will be.
Erdogan made the central bank follow his unusual idea that cutting interest rates will bring down inflation.
In fact, the reverse is true.
Last year, Turkey’s yearly inflation rate got as high as 85%, and the lira fell for a short time.
During the campaign, the lira has been very stable, which shows that the government is putting a lot of money into market moves.
The central bank’s net foreign currency reserves, which are a key indicator of the health of the economy, have gone negative for the first time since 2002.
Economists think that Erdogan’s government will have to change direction and raise rates sharply or stop supporting the lira if it wants to avoid a full-blown crisis after the vote.
Giorgio Broggi from the Moneyfarm investment house said, “If Kilicdaroglu were to win, he would immediately set up a more strict monetary policy than Erdogan.”