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Erdogan gives the go-ahead for a gloomy election campaign

ANKARA — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned music from his campaign stops on Friday and vowed to heal the earthquake-hit nation’s wounds as he officially scheduled the next elections for March 14.

Erdogan signed a decree on national television launching the campaign for what is widely considered Turkey’s most momentous vote in its post-Ottoman history.

It is also shaping up to be the most difficult of the 69-year-old leaders’ two-decade reign.

Voters will face the tough choice of keeping Erdogan’s Islam-rooted party in power until 2028 or handing back the reins to Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s main secular party.

Erdogan said he will compete under the slogan: “Now for Turkey”.

But he gave the campaign season a somber tone by banning music and directing candidates from his party to contribute to the emergency services, which are in charge of earthquake recovery work.

“Our agenda during the election (campaign) will focus on efforts to heal the wounds of the earthquake victims and compensate for the economic and social damage,” he said.

– Are you losing in polls? –

Erdogan is a tireless activist and a gifted speaker who seems to come alive on stage.

But he will have to dig deep to secure a victory in an election some of his own allies have suggested he postpone by a year.

Turkey was already grappling with the worst economic crisis of Erdogan’s tenure when it was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake last month, killing tens of thousands and leaving millions homeless.

The United Nations estimates the cost of the damage alone at more than $100 billion.

His political opponents have formed the kind of broad tent coalition that Erdogan himself has relied on to win more than a dozen elections over the course of his career.

The six parties united behind secular opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu include hardened nationalists and an Islamic party, as well as more moderate voices that want to push Turkey back onto a more predictable course.

Opinion polls are notoriously unreliable in Turkey and some show that Erdogan is still clinging to the top.

But others show him lagging his far less flamboyant opponent by more than 10 percentage points.

– “Turkey needs this” –

Analysts are now watching the movements of a leftist pro-Kurdish party that was expelled from the anti-Erdogan alliance over more nationalist views of some other opposition leaders.

The party is expected to hold talks with Kilicdaroglu in the coming days.

She won nearly 12 percent of the vote in the last general election and is now seen as the kingmaker in the race.

Erdogan enjoyed some support from Kurdish voters in the early stages of his career.

But the party helped an anti-Erdogan coalition come to power in the historic 2019 local elections, in which the opposition seized power in Istanbul and Ankara for the first time since the 1990s.

Kilicdaroglu kicked off his campaign with a flight to Kahramanmaras – a southeastern city closest to the epicenter of last month’s first massive shock.

“Turkey needs that. It needs elections,” said the 74-year-old. “It needs change.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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