4/30/2023 – | Last updated: 4/30/2023 10:39 PM (Makkah)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his most prominent rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, gathered huge crowds on Sunday in Turkey, two weeks before presidential and legislative elections that are expected to witness intense competition.
Erdogan said in front of his supporters in an Ankara park, "Are you ready for May 14? Are you ready to make the polling stations overflow (with voters)?"
In statements he made during the electoral event that was held in the "People's Park", Erdogan touched on the services provided by his government and his party's municipalities to the capital over the past 21 years.
He stressed that Ankara has also become the capital of defense industries, thanks to the investments made by his governments during the past years.
He also stressed that Ankara will turn into a center for high-speed train lines, due to the lines it owns and after the completion of the current projects as well.
Erdogan called on the supporters of his "Justice and Development" party to intensify their electoral activities, criticizing the "failure" of the opposition municipalities in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, the largest Turkish cities, to provide basic services to the residents of those cities, despite their administration for nearly 4 years.
The president, who resumed his electoral campaign and public activity after a health problem this week, called on his supporters to urge their citizens who have not yet made up their minds to vote for him.
He stressed that "our nation, God willing, will remove them from political life," referring to the opposition coalition.
For his part, Kilicdaroglu stressed at a festival in Izmir (west), the country's third largest city, which is a stronghold of the opposition, that "Turkey will restore the light," he said.
He added, "These elections are elections to rebuild our democracy (…) We will restore peace to this country, I will restore brotherhood to this country."
The elections, scheduled for May 14, take the form of a referendum on Erdogan, who for the first time faces a unified opposition after 20 years in power.
Erdogan is 69 years old and he is competing with 3 candidates, most notably his main opponent Kılıçdaroğlu (74 years old), who is a candidate of an alliance of 6 opposition parties that includes the national right, all the way to the democratic left, and is dominated by the Republican People's Party, which was established by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Kilicdaroglu won unprecedented support from the left-wing, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which called for a vote in his favour.
Opinion polls predict a heated presidential election, which is likely to be the closest since the Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002.
While both parties confirm their ability to win from the first round, it is likely that the name of the president will not be decided except with the result of a second ballot, which will be held on May 28.