06/23/2018, 08.08
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Turkey prepares for vote: Erdogan’s sights set on securing power, the opposition promises battle

Set for tomorrow, the general elections will renew parliament and choose the next president. The economy, war in Syria and Kurdish issue hot topics among voters. Analysts and experts speak of the "most important" vote in the modern history of the country. Erdogan focuses on nationalist leverage. The oppositions seek unity to stop the domination of the "sultan".


Istanbul (AsiaNews) – A stalled economy in spite of government proclamations, which accuse international rating agencies of exaggerating the situation in the country; The Kurdish question, with the army recently intensifying its repression of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party, considered outlawed by Ankara) militia and local political leaders; The war in Syria, with the attached issue of refugees and support for armed groups of the anti-Assad opposition. These are the main issues that will affect the general elections tomorrow, June 25, in Turkey, that see the outgoing president and the ruling party favorites to win.

The vote represents a key passage for the future of the nation and of the entire Middle Eastern region, after the elections in Lebanon and Iraq; it is also the first since the constitutional reform wanted by the head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following a controversial referendum and its contested outcome. The reform includes the abolition of the office of Prime Minister whose powers will be exercised by the future president.

Turkish citizens are called to the polls for general elections, initially scheduled for 3 November 2019 and then anticipated as announced on 18 April by a presidential note. In the context of the vote the new head of state will be elected, with a double-shift system; in the event of a run-off, there will be a run-off on Sunday 8 July, to choose between the two majority candidates. At the same time, 600 new deputies will be chosen (50 more than in the past), who will comprise the Grand National Assembly.

The electoral event is of strategic importance, with some analysts indicating it as the most important vote in the modern history of the country. The future president will be able to benefit from executive powers - including injunctive decrees, the appointment of the government, the vice-presidents and the highest judges in the country - never before received by a head of state. He will hold office until 2023, when the centenary of the foundation of the Republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire occurs.

The main favorite remains the 64-year-old outgoing leader Erdogan, head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), thanks to the monopolization of the country's media: according to an independent observatory the current president has appeared for 68 hours on state television ; the two rivals Muharrem Ince of the Republican party (Chp) and Meral Aksener nicknamed "the wolf" of the nationalist party IYI, respectively have had only seven hours and 13 minutes each. This is why the opponents, including  the head of the Kurdish party Selahattin Demirtas, of the Democratic Party of Peoples (HDP), in prison because suspected of involvement in the failed coup in July 2016, prefer to use the social networks.

Analysis and experts predict a victory for Erdogan and AKP, but it will not be a plebiscite and post-voting electoral alliances are not excluded - as pointed out by the president himself. The goal of the "sultan" is the 300 seats, otherwise "we will see Sunday evening" what steps will be taken take to form the new executive. According to some the outgoing leader himself will have to resort to the ballot for the renewal of the presidential term, excluding a victory already in the first round. In any case, a climate of uncertainty prevails and even the most attentive observers show extreme caution in anticipating future results and scenarios.

In these days Erdogan has relaunched nationalist propaganda and ensured future economic and diplomatic successes for Turkey under his leadership. However, the union of the forces of secular, Islamic radicals, nationalists and Kurds in an anti-Sultan key - a first for the country - could hold some surprises. That's why in recent weeks the outgoing president has strengthened the control of the country, effectively approving a new wave of arrests that has led to another 326 people in prison and bringing the total to over 50,000 in the last two years.

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