Eyeing win, Turkish opposition stokes anti-immigrant views in campaign
With such rhetoric, candidates aim to attract hardline nationalists who have become an influential element in the electoral equation.
While Kemal Kilicdaroglu's campaign capitalized on social inclusion early on in the presidential race, the CHP leader has steadily shifted to the right in his campaign in a desperate bid to mobilize right-wingers in his favor in a desperate bid to find the millions of votes he needs to challenge Erdogan.
Kilicdaroglu has pledged to deport Syrian and Afghan refugees within a year of assuming office, The Guardian reported.
In one of the campaign videos, Kilicdaroglu is seen saying, "You brought more than 10 million refugees in,” addressing Erdogan, “I hereby declare that I will send all refugees back as soon as I come to power.”
Affiliates of Kilicdaroglu were even reported to be distributing flyers that read: “Refugees will return home."
The large majority of the Turkish public has assessed the country’s harsh economic crisis, but surging far-right elements has prompted Kilicdaroglu to cater to their concerns about the increased number of refugees.
After the first round of elections, Umit Ozdag, leader of the aggressively anti-immigrant Victory Party, declared an alliance with Kilicdaroglu because he believed he was more likely to enact his policy of immediately deporting refugees.
The harsh anti-immigration sentiment has resonated with many of the CHP's supporters. Earlier this week, a leading member of the party’s youth wing posted a video to Twitter under the words: “Syrians will leave.”
“It’s one thing to add tough rhetoric on refugees, it’s another to shake hands with Özdağ,” said analyst Selim Koru of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “This changes the entire chemistry of the opposition coalition to something different from what it was before the first round.”
The CHP and their nationalist coalition partner have persistently challenged Erdoan's decision to grant temporary protection status to about 3.6 million Syrians, as well as the deal he struck with the EU that gave Turkey €6 billion in return for stopping migration into the EU.
Today, Turkish voters headed to polling stations to exercise their right in voting in the country's presidential runoff between incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the ruling People's Alliance, and his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the candidate for the opposition Nation Alliance.
Polls opened at 8 am local time, and the process ends at 5 pm local time, while results are expected to be announced a few hours after polls close.
Polling stations outside Turkey on Wednesday closed after Turkish expatriates took part in the presidential runoff, while the process is underway at the border points until the afternoon.
On May 14, no presidential candidate ensured 50%+1 of the vote in the first round of the elections. Turkey started on Saturday its electoral silence as campaigns for all parties were concluded. More than 191,000 ballot boxes are set up in 973 districts and 1,094 electoral boards across the country.
#Turkish voters prepare to vote for their next president. Results of the 28th of May elections are anticipated by the local and international community.— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) May 26, 2023
The run-of elections in #Turkey came due to the inability of the Turkish Presidential candidates to obtain the 50% +1 votes… pic.twitter.com/pJWnPSnVnq
In their electoral campaigns, political parties focused on attracting three main groups. First, young people, especially those who are voting for the first time in this year's elections. Secondly, those who abstained from voting in the first round, and their percentage is approximately 11% of those eligible to vote, and their number is about 10 million voters. The third category is hardline nationalists who have become an influential element in the electoral equation.
Over all other files, such as the economy and foreign policy, the refugee crisis dominated the electoral campaigns. The first round witnessed a turnout of about 89%, and observers expect the runoff's turnout to be as high.