Thundering Erdogan: Back on Campaign Trail after Illness Shakes Turkey’s Elections

President Erdogan Roars Back: Illness Can't Keep Him Down on Campaign Trail

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President Erdogan Roars Back: Illness Can’t Keep Him Down on Campaign Trail

After dropping out of key events for three days this week due to illness, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reappeared on the campaign trail in Izmir, western Turkey, on Saturday, just a fortnight ahead of critical elections. Despite the setback, Erdogan appeared in “thundering form,” speaking for almost 40 minutes and raising the specter of “terrorism” while mocking the opposition. He also reiterated his message that only he could deliver growth for Turkey, a statement that would have reassured his supporters but may have worried his detractors.

The President’s main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, will hold a rally in the same spot on Sunday. Although opinion polls give Kilicdaroglu a slight lead, the election could well be a photo finish. After twenty years in power, the polls – for the presidency and parliament – will be Erdogan’s toughest challenge yet.

The rally in Izmir was a strong turnout in an opposition stronghold, with many women wearing headscarves and Erdogan’s bedrock of religious conservatives in attendance. However, some of those who had waited for hours for the president to arrive drifted away while he was still speaking.

The President’s unorthodox economic policies have been blamed by experts for rampant inflation, officially around 50%. Nevertheless, many of his supporters remain fiercely loyal. One woman at the rally, Gurbet Dostum, expressed her support for Erdogan, saying, “When I heard the news about his health, I asked God to give me his illness. I am ready to be in pain for him. He gives us everything.”

Despite the fierce loyalty of his supporters, many Turks want Erdogan to end his long rule and pursue a different vision for Turkey. The country remains deeply divided, and the electorate is split. The upcoming election will be crucial for Turkey’s future, and the outcome is uncertain.

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