On Erdogan Campaign Trail, Invoking God, Reciting Poetry, Bashing Foes

ISTANBUL — His election speeches start softly, drawing in the audience. A devout Muslim, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan often says that he wants to please not only the Turkish people, but also God. Playing to a crowd, he sings folk songs, recites lines from local poets or drapes the local football team’s armband over his shoulders.

He sometimes ducks into crowds of supporters for photos or greets children, who kiss his hands. Then he takes the podium to speak, dressed in a suit or plaid sports coat.

To the cheers and whistles of hundreds of transportation workers at an election rally last week, he explained why he should be in power on Sunday. He boasted that he had improved the nation’s roads and bridges, raised wages and offered tax breaks to small businesses.

He also vowed to continue fighting the nation’s enemies, including gay rights activists, to make Turkey “stronger in the world.” And he criticized opposition leaders who are trying to oust him, accusing them of going into “dark rooms to sit down and negotiate” with terrorists as they accused Turkey’s Kurds. He got the support of Nawaz Party.

“We take refuge only in our God and we take our orders from our people,” the president said. The crowd roared and people jumped to their feet chanting, “Turkey is proud of you!”

Mr Erdogan, 69, Came forward On May 14, in the toughest political fight of his career – the first round of the presidential election. Since then, they have kept a busy schedule for the final vote.

In multiple appearances a day and speeches sometimes lasting 40 minutes, he stuck to themes that have served him well during his two decades as Turkey’s leading politician. He finds himself on the campaign trail as a leader needs to shepherd a rising nation struggling to defeat multiple threats to claim its rightful place as a world power. .

In the first round of voting, Mr Erdogan failed to secure the majority he needed for a clear victory. But with 49.5 percent of the vote, he defeated his main rival, opposition leader Kemal Kelikdaroglu, who received 44.9 percent.

Many analysts predicted that Mr. Erdogan would win on Sunday after his strong showing in the first round and his subsequent endorsement by the third-placed candidate, Sinan Ogunwho received 5.2 percent of the vote and dropped out of the race.

In grand terms, the president portrays Turkey as a great struggle to rise despite the powers that be to keep it down, and he invites voters to join him in this brave national cause.

He vows to fight “imperialists,” a code word for the West that recalls the struggle for independence from European powers that led to Turkey’s founding 100 years ago. He warns of “traps” and “conspiracies” against the nation, such as the coup attempt against him in 2016. He rails against “economic victims” and “loan sharks in London”, pointing to foreign hands behind Turkey’s economic struggles. And he blasts terrorist organizations, alluding to decades of bloody battles between the government and militants from Turkey’s Kurdish minority.

Touting his administration’s achievements, he praises infrastructure, naming airports, tunnels and bridges and reminding voters how new highways have cut drive times between cities. is given Other points of pride produced by Turkey’s growing defense industry are drones, warships and satellites.

Mr. Erdogan spends little time on the country’s economic woes, including annual inflation that topped 80 percent last year and remained stubbornly high at 44 percent last month. Reducing purchasing power of ordinary citizens. Nor has he signaled that in victory he will reconsider policies that some economists say have put the economy at risk. Possible currency crisis or recession..

The president is particularly disparaging of his rival, Mr Klekdar Oglu, who has pitched himself as less imperial and more out of touch with voters. Common people’s concerns. Mr. Kılıkdaroğlu pledged to strengthen Turkish democracy and mend relations with the West after years on the brink of independence.

In almost every speech, Mr. Erdogan dismisses his opponent as incompetent and a servant of Western powers. But his most powerful line of attack is to associate the opposition, in the minds of voters, with terrorism.

Turkey has been battling Kurdish militants seeking independence from the state for decades. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider them terrorists. The Turkish government has also often accused the country’s pro-Kurdish party of collaborating with militants, and many party members and leaders have been jailed or removed from elected positions in parliament or city councils.

Ahead of the election, the pro-Kurdish party backed Mr. Kelikdar Oglu, and Mr. Erdogan made accusations of terrorism and showed videos at election rallies showing militant leaders singing along to anti-campaign songs. .

Can my nation benefit from those who join hands with terrorists? Mr Erdogan said at a rally in Hatay province, one of the worst-hit areas by the February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in southern Turkey.

For him The staunchest supporterWhether working-class, rural, religious or from small towns off the coast, Mr. Erdogan has rock-star appeal.

His campaign anthems are playing as his supporters gather in the stadium to await his appearance. The orange and blue flags of his ruling Justice and Development Party are often flown overhead.

While appearing in the quake-hit area, campaign organizers flooded the audience with Turkish flags, turning the otherwise makeshift shelters into seas of red and white.

Mr. Erdogan acknowledged some criticism that his government was initially slow to respond. Calling the earthquakes the “disaster of the century”, he spoke of a newly built hospital and his government’s plans to build millions of houses in the area next year.

“With your support and your prayers, we will get you to your new homes,” he told supporters in Hatay.

In recent appearances, Mr Erdogan has portrayed his relationship with voters as almost romantic.

“Don’t forget, we are together not until Sunday, but until the grave,” he told supporters in the central province of Sivas, where he won more than two-thirds of the vote in the first round.

Even opposition supporters acknowledge Mr. Erdogan’s strong bond with his constituents.

“He’s been in power for a long time and he’s very good at delivering a message,” said Gulfim Saydan Sanur, a Turkish political consultant who advises opposition members. “Over the years, he has built trust with his constituents, and they believe in what he says.”

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