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Meet the man who wants to end the Erdogan era and transform Turkey

If you’re interested in seeing how politics works in Turkey, then a Bursa market stall is the best place to see it.

We are here to ask people about the Sunday election when , Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will try to extend his power of two decades. Many people like him, and you can see them amongst the colourful food stalls.

One man says, “He’s a good politician. I will vote for him.” One man tells me that he would vote 10,000,000 times for Mr Erdogan if he had the chance. Third, Mr Erdogan is credited with making Turkey a great nation and standing up to America.

All smiles, until we ask a young man. He admits that he is unhappy with the economy and that prices are increasing too quickly. He will vote for someone else. A man comes up and shouts as soon as he finishes his words. The smell of discontent has been explosive. The atmosphere was different.


It seems that we are now guilty of interfering in areas where we have no right to be. The man said, “We already have a great leader. We don’t want anyone else.” He says we are causing trouble, and then orders us to leave. A woman stands next to him and also gives us a frank talk. Foreign journalists, asking questions.

Image: Mr Erdogan is popular in Turkey

In this country, Mr. Erdogan is the greatest divider. You can’t ignore him or be indifferent to him. He is everywhere because he personally reformed the economy, political system, judiciary, and media. There are also posters of him everywhere.

His hold on power could be eroding. Sunday, Turkey’s parliament and president will be elected. After 20 years of being in power, Mr. Erdogan faces the possibility of a close election that could have a significant impact on his political career.

A group of opposition parties has united to oppose him. They have one goal in mind: to remove Erdogan from power. Kemal Kilicdaroglu is the leader of this coalition.

We’re in Bursa to meet Mr Kilicdaroglu. The man who wants Turkey to be reshaped.

Click here to read more

Recep Tayyip Erdoan: Who is the president of Turkey?

Image Kemal Kilicdaroglu at a rally in Ankara

The opposite of Erdogan

At the age of 74, Mr Kilicdaroglu has achieved international fame. He is positioned as the opposite of Mr Erdogan, a calm man who seeks to reach consensus rather than abrasive rhetoric.

We meet in relative quiet on his bus. He can see through the window that thousands of people are gathered to hear him and hold posters of his image. We sit down and shake hands. Mr Kilicdaroglu is smiling widely, even though he does not speak English.

Image: Supporters make Mr Kilicdaroglu’s familiar sign, a heart-shaped shape with his hands

I point at the people gathered outside. Has expectation become a burden?

He replies, “I’m not the only person who feels pressure.” “If thousands of people are coming together to protest, they’re doing so because the economic problems have made society restless.

What I want to know is, does he want to be President or just thwart Erdogan?

He insists that “there is real damage done to the founding pillars” of the country. “The main pillars in democracy, which include the legislature, judiciary, and executive, have also been seriously damaged.” We want to fix it. “I want to be president, and I’m really interested in making Turkey a democracy.”

Image: Supporters Mr Kilicdaroglu held a rally at Bursa

‘Damage report’

He said that if he is elected, he would spend a whole month compiling “damage reports” for his country. “We don’t know our income, our costs, or our liabilities.” He paints a picture that is consistently one of misrule – a country that is subordinate to its leader’s interests.

Even if he wins, it will only be by a small margin. Many in the country still find Mr Erdogan popular. He is often very popular.

Image Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to extend his two decade-long grip on the power
Image Mr Erdogan’s supporters claim he made Turkey a great nation and stood up against America

How does Mr Kilicdaroglu intend to redefine Turkey’s position in the world after 20 years of his country becoming increasingly distant from Europe, Britain, and America? This question has been bothering leaders and diplomats since months.

He tells me, “We want be a part the West and civilized world.” “We want democracy for our country. We don’t want an authoritarian leader, we want freedom. The young and the women are tired of it, they want freedom too.

“We will therefore implement all democratic rules of the European Union in our country. Our relationship with West will be developed in a democratic manner. Our ties will become even stronger. We will continue to maintain our ties with Russia, as we did in the past, because there are many Turkish investors. “But we are against Russia invading Ukraine and do not find this acceptable.”

If he won, would he change his stance towards NATO and allow Sweden’s membership? The reply is “It’ll happen”.

Image: According to the latest polls, Mr Kilicdaroglu is predicted to receive around half of the votes

Erdogan is already playing dirty tricks

Now, the election is within reach. Rumours persist that Mr Erdogan is using state apparatus to manipulate the results or intimidate the voters. Is Mr Kilicdaroglu concerned about “dirty trick”?

“He’s already doing dirty tricks.” In all my years, I’ve never seen anyone do it so much. He slanders and distorts facts. “But whatever he says or does, people will still choose me.” He does not accuse Erdogan of corruption, but he says that Mr. Erdogan is “very fond of money”.

According to the latest polls, Mr Kilicdaroglu is predicted to receive around half of the votes. This could be enough to give him a victory in the initial round.

Image: A rally in support of Mr Kilicdaroglu

“I will be president of the whole Turkey”

This would be a remarkable result but also a huge challenge. He must unite the nation, fix the economy, restore democracy and reconnect with his bruised allies.

He says, “I will be president of the entire country. I will represent all 85,000,000 people.” What about those who do not like him? If there’s a good leader, you don’t look down on people and treat everyone equally. You also bring justice to those who are seeking justice. The state will be transparent and you will be able to account all taxes collected. They will see that you have a great leadership and will join our side.

Our time is over. He will soon be greeted by a large crowd and will make his famous sign with his hands. For the moment he just thanks us and gives a handshake. “Will you be victorious on Sunday?” “Will you win on Sunday?” I ask as we walk. The reply is “Oh, yes.” He smiles broadly.


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