Turkey is holding a crucial election on May 14, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan facing a tough re-election campaign. The opposition, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party, is promising to address key issues such as democratic backsliding, inflation, and civil rights. Kilicdaroglu’s six-party alliance includes liberals, nationalists, and religious conservatives, and has campaigned on a platform of democratic change and repatriating Syrian refugees. Recent polls suggest that Kilicdaroglu is narrowly ahead of Erdogan.
Turkey is also dealing with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in February that destroyed or damaged over 300,000 buildings and left 658,000 people jobless. Erdogan has promised to rebuild the quake zone and construct 319,000 homes within a year. However, his government has been criticized for lax building code enforcement and a slow response to the disaster.
Anti-migration sentiment is also on the rise in Turkey amid economic downturn. The opposition has pledged to repatriate Syrian refugees within two years and pursue a more Western-oriented foreign policy to rebuild ties with the US, EU, and NATO allies.
Kilicdaroglu has worked hard to gain the trust of religiously conservative women who wear the headscarf by pledging to guarantee their right to stay veiled in public. Erdogan has ruled Turkey since 2003 and is seeking his fourth term as president. He has campaigned heavily in recent weeks, attending events across the country.