Opinion polls show Erdogan trailing the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a day before one of the most crucial elections in Turkey’s modern history. But if neither of them wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off will be held on May 28.
Voters will also choose a new parliament in what is likely to be a tight race between the People’s Alliance (Cumhur) made up of Erdoğan’s conservative Justice and Development Party, the Nationalist Movement Party and others on the one hand, and the Nation Alliance led by Davutoğlu made up of six opposition parties including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a secular party he founded. The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on the other hand.
Polling stations will open at eight in the morning (05:00 GMT) and close at five in the evening (14:00 GMT). By late Sunday evening, indications are expected to emerge as to whether a run-off will take place.
Erdogan’s campaign has focused over the past month on his government’s achievements in defense and infrastructure projects, and his assertion that the opposition will back down from such achievements.
Among the points that Erdogan focuses on in his speech is the issue that the opposition takes orders from the West and that its representatives will submit to the wishes of Western countries if they are elected.
‘Biden ordered me down’
At a rally in the urban district of Istanbul, Erdogan recalled statements made by US President Joe Biden and published by the New York Times in January 2020 during his campaign for the White House. At the time, Biden said Washington should encourage Erdogan’s opponents to defeat him electorally, stressing that he should not be overthrown in a coup.
Ankara then denounced the statements as “interference” in its affairs. Those statements reappeared later that year through a video clip that made Biden’s name the most popular on Twitter in Turkey.
Erdogan, 69, said: “Biden gave the order to topple Erdogan, and I know that. And all my people know it… If that is the case, then the response to Biden will also come via the ballot papers tomorrow.”
Erdogan also criticized Davutoglu’s statements about Russia, describing Moscow as an important partner for Turkey. “Russia is one of our most important allies when it comes to agricultural products,” he said.
Turkey’s Western allies are alarmed by the closer relations between Ankara and Moscow under Erdogan. Turkey is a member of NATO, which has been standing firmly behind Kiev since the start of the Russian military operation.
Davutoglu told Reuters on Friday that his party had concrete evidence of Russia’s involvement in disseminating misleading content on the Internet using technology called “deep faking” ahead of Sunday’s presidential elections, but he did not provide evidence and Reuters could not verify it independently.
However, Erdogan’s main rival added that if he wins the presidency, he will maintain Ankara’s good relations with Moscow.
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