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Turkey Election 2023: Candidate Muharram Ince Drops Abruptly – It’s Clear

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Shortly before the Turkish election on May 14, candidate Muharrem Ince surprisingly dropped out of the race. That should shake up the whole picture tremendously.

FRANKFURT – Just before the 2023 Turkish elections on Sunday (May 14), Memleket (Fatherland Party) leader Muharrem Ince withdrew his candidacy. He was seen as an alternative to opposition candidate and CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. There is now a debate in Turkey about how this development will affect the elections and whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will benefit from it.

Turkey Election 2023: Ince withdraws his candidacy

“I am withdrawing my candidacy,” Ince said at the Memleket party headquarters on Thursday (May 11). Earlier, he had to postpone several campaign appearances due to ill health. Criticism of the opposition under Klikdaroglu could be heard in his statements. According to Ince, he was accused of receiving money from Erdogan. “They said I would do my job and was paid by the palace and therefore could not withdraw from the competition,” said the former CHP politician.

“Now I want to speak to the people who made this scandal,” Ince said, announcing his retirement from racing. His next words about the opposition under Kilikdaroglu were harsh: “After they lost the election, they will blame us, and now we will remove their excuses. (For failure, note to the editor) away.”

Election campaign in Turkey: Erdogan vs. Kılıçdaroğlu – The Fight for the Presidency

A man walks past a picture of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kemal Kilidaroglu.
Continue with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or challenger Kemal Kilidaroglu? Presidential elections in Turkey on Sunday, May 14, 2023, will determine who will rule the Bosphorus and its 85 million inhabitants in the future. Election campaigning has long been raging throughout the country, including in the Istanbul metropolitan area. © Emrah Gurel/dpa
CHP supporters celebrate opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Kocaeli.
Supporters of Kemal Gilidaroslu are hoping for a change in Turkey’s leadership after nearly 20 years with Erdogan. Turkey’s pre-election polls point to a shift. Depending on the polling station, CHP candidate Kılıçdaroğlu is ahead or behind Erdogan. The opposition’s optimism is correspondingly high, as in Kocaeli, where Kılıçdaroğlu assures his listeners of “the return of the political spring.” © Yasin Akul/AFP
Kemal Kilikaroglu is campaigning in Turkey
Is he really the next president of Turkey? Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been the leader of the Social Democratic CHP, the largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, since 2010. A graduate economist is considered a financial expert. He has been married since 1974 and comes from an Alevi family. Opinion polls are talking about Erdogan’s rival. © Uncredited/dpa
Campaigning with Erdogan ahead of Turkey's elections in Istanbul
But poor poll numbers have failed to embolden President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or his ruling AKP supporters. Turkey’s ruler continues to look confident and address his fans in Istanbul, with nothing more than a historic victory over Kilidaroglu and his opposition coalition. © IMAGO/AK Party Office\apaimages
Election campaign in Turkey: Millions cheer for Erdogan in Istanbul
According to his own reports, Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently gathered 1.5 million people for an election campaign event in Istanbul. The resulting impressive images are a clear signal to Kemal Kilidaroglu and his opposition coalition: the AKP is far from defeated. Erdogan is in a position of hope. © AFP
Putin meets Erdogan in Turkey
As the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not above making full use of his current bonus ahead of the election. An old ally is also happy to help him: Vladimir Putin, when he visited the Turkish capital Ankara in 2022. During the election year, Erdogan repeatedly pitched himself as a mediator in the Ukraine war — so far with little to no notable success. © MURAT KULA/AFP
Ekrem İmamoğlu with his wife during Türkiye’s election campaign in Istanbul.
But the election campaign in Turkey is not always peaceful. The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, had to experience this, as did presidential candidate Kemal Kiliktaroslu, a member of the CHP. The mayor, pictured here with his wife Dilek Imamoglu, was stoned at a campaign rally in Erzurum. İmamoğlu had to stop performing and flee. Erzurum province in eastern Anatolia is considered a stronghold of Erdogan and his national conservative AKP. © IMAGO/Tunahan Turhan
A grocery store in Turkey just before the presidential election
Apart from the earthquake, the country’s economic condition has also been a major issue in Turkey’s election campaign. Inflation rates have reached astronomical heights, and the value of the Turkish lira is in free fall. Although the AKP government has recently managed to lower the inflation rate again, it is still above 50 percent. Experts also attribute Erdogan’s policies to Turkey’s economic woes. © ADEM ALTAN/AFP
Earthquake devastates Antakya, Turkey
Just before the election, Turkey experienced its worst natural disaster in recent memory. More than 50 people died in the earthquake that struck Turkey on February 6. After the earthquake, the AKP government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan also came under criticism. In the years leading up to the disaster, the president loosened numerous building codes that made buildings earthquake-resistant and diverted funds earmarked for disaster relief. © Boris Roessler/dpa
Ataturk banner ahead of Turkey’s elections.
But the president is not the only one elected in Turkey. The new members of the 600-member Turkish parliament will also be decided on May 14, 2023. During his tenure, Recep Tayyip Erdogan weakened the powers of parliament in favor of the president. Kemal Kilikdaroglu has promised to reverse these changes if he wins the election, thereby protecting Turkey’s republic, founded by the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, from authoritarian machinations. © Francisco Seco/dpa

Turkey Election 2023: First round result after İnce exit?

Now there is speculation whether voters will turn to Ince Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu. Memleket supporters are divided on social media. Ince’s departure also increases the probability of a first-round pick. If the fourth candidate, Sinon Ogan, also withdraws, it will be certain. “According to my information, Mr. Ogan may also resign,” Turkish journalist Ismail Saimas from the opposition channel Hulk TV said shortly after Ince’s report. (bb)

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