03/30/2019, 09.23
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Administrative elections: Erdogan focuses on nationalism and security

Leadership of the president under discussion, who since 2002 has won all the elections. With the economy in crisis, Erdogan focuses on security and the Kurdish "terrorist threat". The opposition is united and in Ankara and Istanbul the vote could harbour surprises.


Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the midst of an economic crisis that is beginning to make its presence felt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is focusing on tomorrow's local elections to strengthen his leadership - and that of the party - over the country. In recent weeks he has led a populist election campaign  (above all, the promise to transform the basilica of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, now converted into a museum), to prevent a possible vote of protest against the AKP (Justice and Development ), his party that has won all the elections since 2002.

About 58 million voters will have to choose their own mayor and the "muhtar", a sort of neighborhood leader; the focus is all on the 30 metropolitan cities that make up the economic and commercial heart of Turkey.

More than any other head of state and government of the past, President Erdogan has made the rounds of the various municipalities in the four corners of the country and has intervened, in a single day, even at five meetings to strengthen his and the party's visibility.

In Istanbul, the president plays the card of former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to secure victory. However, the biggest concerns come from the capital, Ankara, in which the AKP candidate - a former government minister - and his main opposition rival are battling vote for vote.

In this election campaign, the economic theme that for years has been the workhorse for the AKP has now turned into its Achilles heel. Economic indexes speak of recession for the first time in 10 years and inflation, fueled by the weakening of the lira, has led to a collapse in consumption, especially in the food sector.

Hence the choice of Erdogan to focus on security, speaking of a nation under the attack of hostile powers. "It's not just elections to choose a mayor - he said - but a vote that concerns our very survival". And to strengthen the chances of victory, he re-launched the alliance with the ultra-nationalists of the Mhp (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, the political arm of the Gray Wolves).

The opposition has chosen to unite by presenting common names in different municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara where the real electoral game is played. In the capital, the Kemalists of the CHP and the nationalists of Iyi Parti support the same candidate. The pro-Kurdish HDP party, weakened by the numerous arrests in recent years, is all played out in the south-eastern sector of Turkey, where the Kurdish presence is the majority, and wants to try to be the needle of the balance in Istanbul and Ankara.

In an attempt to minimize the electoral weight of the Kurds, in recent weeks Erdogan has repeatedly accused the HDP of links with "terrorism" and threatened to commission the municipalities it manages, replacing the mayors with prefects and pro-government officials sent from the capital.

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