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Kemal Kilicdaroglu: Meet the person who desires to finish the Erdogan period and remodel Turkey | World Information

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In Turkey, politics is advanced, delicate and divisive – and if you wish to know what that appears like, there is not any higher place to witness it than a market stall within the bustling metropolis of Bursa.

We’re right here asking individuals about Sunday’s election, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan will search to increase his two-decade-long grip on energy. And right here, among the many colors and fragrances of the meals stalls, many like him.

“He is an effective chief, I will be voting for him,” says one man. One other tells me he would vote for Mr Erdogan 10 million occasions over, if solely he may. A 3rd says Mr Erdogan has made Turkey into an awesome nation and stood as much as America.

It is all smiles till we ask one younger man, who admits he is sad with the financial system, that costs are rising too quick, and that he’ll vote for another person. No sooner are the phrases out of his mouth than a person rushes as much as us and begins shouting. The scent of dissent has proved flamable. The environment had modified.

We’re, it appears, now responsible of meddling the place we do not belong. “We have now an excellent chief, we do not want anybody totally different,” the person says. He tells us we’re upsetting bother after which, stridently, he orders us to go away. Alongside him, a lady can also be giving us an earful. Overseas journalists, asking questions.

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Mr Erdogan stays common in Turkey

On this nation, Mr Erdogan is the good divider. You can’t be detached about him, and nor are you able to ignore him. His presence is in every single place, for he has personally reshaped the financial system, the political system, the judiciary and the media. And, for good measure, there are posters of him in all places.

However his maintain on energy could also be weakening. On Sunday, Turkey will go to the polls to elect a brand new president, in addition to vote for its parliament. It is going to be shut however Mr Erdogan, after 20 years in cost, is now going through the numerous chance of a defeat that might have seismic repercussions.

Pitched in opposition to him is a bunch of opposition events who’ve coalesced round one single aspiration – to dump Erdogan from energy. And main that coalition is Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

That is why we’re in Bursa – to satisfy Mr Kilicdaroglu. The person who desires to reshape Turkey.

Learn extra:
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Who is Turkey’s president?

Kemal Kilicdaroglu during a rally in Ankara
Kemal Kilicdaroglu throughout a rally in Ankara

The polar reverse of Erdogan

Mr Kilicdaroglu is discovering worldwide fame on the age of 74. He positions himself because the polar reverse of Mr Erdogan – a quiet man who seeks consensus, so the story goes, moderately than an abrasive bombast.

We meet within the relative peace of his bus. Via the window, he can see 1000’s of individuals gathering to listen to him converse and holding posters of his face. We shake palms and sit down. Mr Kilicdaroglu, who doesn’t converse English, is smiling broadly.

Supporters of Mr Kilicdaroglu make his familiar sign - a heart shape made with his two hands
Supporters of Mr Kilicdaroglu make his acquainted signal – a coronary heart form made along with his two palms

I level to the individuals gathering outdoors. Is expectation changing into a burden?

“I’m not the one one who feels the strain,” he replies. “If a whole lot and 1000’s of individuals have come collectively, it’s to react to the strain as a result of there are critical issues within the financial system and these issues make society stressed.”

However does he actually need to be president, or does he merely need to thwart Mr Erdogan, I’m wondering.

“There’s actual injury inflicted on the founding pillars of the nation,” he insists. “The principle pillars of democracy, that are the legislature, the judiciary and the chief, are additionally significantly broken. We need to repair this. I need to be the president and I actually need to make Turkey a democratic nation.”

Supporters of Mr Kilicdaroglu
Supporters of Mr Kilicdaroglu maintain a rally in Bursa

‘Harm report’

He says that, if elected, he’ll spend a month compiling a “injury report” on his nation. “We have no idea what our earnings are, what our prices are, what our liabilities are.” It’s a image of misrule that he paints repeatedly – of a rustic that has turn into subsidiary to the pursuits of its chief.

Even when he does win, will probably be by a slender margin. Mr Erdogan stays common, usually wildly so, with many on this nation, notably those that assume Mr Kilicdaroglu is beguiled by the secular nations of the West.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes he’ll prolong his two-decade-long grip on energy
Supporters of Mr Erdogan rally in Istanbul
Mr Erdogan’s supporters say he has made Turkey into an awesome nation and stood as much as America

So, after 20 years when his nation has turn into ever extra distanced from Europe, Britain and America, how does Mr Kilicdaroglu plan to redefine Turkey’s place on this planet? It’s the query that has bothered leaders and diplomats for months now.

“We need to be part of the West and the civilized world,” he tells me. “We would like democracy in our nation. We don’t want an authoritarian management, we would like freedom. Younger individuals and girls are fed up, additionally they need freedom.

“Due to this fact, we will probably be implementing all of the democratic guidelines of the European Union to our nation. Our relationship with the West will develop in a democratic method. Our ties will probably be even stronger. We’ll keep our relationships with Russia as they had been prior to now as a result of many Turkish businessmen have investments there. However we’re in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and we don’t discover it acceptable.”

I ask him if Turkey would change its stance on NATO if he wins – would he reverse Mr Erdogan’s objections and permit Sweden to hitch? “It should occur,” comes the reply.

Rally held by leader of opposition Kilicdaroglu
The newest polls have Mr Kilicdaroglu predicted to win round half the vote

Erdogan ‘is already enjoying soiled tips’

The election is now inside touching distance. There are persistent rumours of Mr Erdogan utilizing the equipment of the state to both manipulate the outcome or intimidate voters. So is Mr Kilicdaroglu frightened about “soiled tips”?

“He’s already enjoying soiled tips. I’ve by no means seen a person do that as a lot as he does in my life. He distorts the details and slanders. However no matter he does, the individuals will select me.” He does not accuse him of corruption however says Mr Erdogan “could be very fond of cash”.

The newest polls have Mr Kilicdaroglu predicted to win round half the vote, doubtlessly sufficient – simply – to provide him an outright victory within the first spherical.

Rally held by leader of opposition Kilicdaroglu
A rally for Mr Kilicdaroglu

‘I would be the president for all of Turkey’

It will be a unprecedented outcome, but additionally a towering problem – to unite his nation, restore the financial system, restore the constructions of democracy, reconnect with bruised allies and one way or the other bridge the chasm to Mr Erdogan’s voters.

“I would be the president for all of Turkey, for all 85 million individuals,” he says. However what of those that do not like him, I ask. “If there’s a good management, no trying down on individuals, and also you deal with all residents equally, and if you happen to carry justice to all who search justice, if the state is clear, if you happen to’re capable of account for all of the taxes collected, they may see what an excellent chief is, they may come to our aspect.”

Our time is up. An enormous crowd waits for him and, shortly, he’ll sure on to the stage and make his acquainted signal – a coronary heart form made along with his two palms. However for the second, he merely thanks us and shakes palms. “Will you win on Sunday?” I ask, as we stroll. “Oh sure,” comes the reply. And he smiles, broadly.

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