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Turkey election: A guide to Erdogan’s biggest test at the polls



Will the May 14 elections end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year stranglehold on Turkey?

Millions will head to the polls next week to vote in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, which observers expect will provide the toughest test of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year period as the country’s leader.

The country’s struggling economy has dealt a blow to Erdogan, while his rivals, capitalising on the panic, have promised to improve conditions. But Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) still have strong support among large swaths of nationalists, and religious conservatives, particularly in Turkey’s Anatolian heartland, who see an opposition victory as a return to an era where they felt downtrodden.


Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know:

When is Turkey’s election?

  • Presidential and parliamentary elections are held on the same day every five years. This year, the elections had initially been scheduled for June 18 but were brought forward to May 14.

How does Turkey’s electoral system work?

  • In July 2018, Turkey transitioned from a parliamentary system to a presidential one. In the new system, voters elect the president directly and the role of prime minister has been abolished.
  • A candidate needs more than half of the presidential vote to win. However, if no one reaches the 50 percent mark, the top two candidates will go head to head in a run-off vote two weeks later.
  • Voters will also elect 600 Grand National Assembly, as the Turkish parliament is known, members through a system of proportional representation, choosing a party list in their district.
(Al Jazeera)

Who are the candidates and what are they promising?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 69

  • The incumbent is running for the People’s Alliance, a coalition of his AK Party and several right-wing parties.
  • During his 20-year rule, Erdogan was prime minister for 11 years, before becoming president in 2014.
  • Led Turkey’s economic and institutional transformation in the 2000s and early 2010s. This has left Erdogan with a lot of goodwill from supporters, who say their lives have improved. He is also viewed as strengthening Turkey on the international stage, and growing the country’s influence.
  • But the country’s struggling economy over the past 18 months has eroded his popularity.
  • He has been accused of cracking down on opposition groups, although government supporters said the moves were necessary following a 2016 coup attempt and the threat from “terrorist” groups.
  • Promises: Continuation of the presidential system, lower interest rates, and a strong, independent Turkey with influence across the wider region.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74

  • Erdogan’s main challenger and the candidate for the six opposition parties of the Nation Alliance.
  • Defines himself as a “democrat” and is known for anti-corruption rhetoric, but is accused by detractors of being too close to the West.
  • Kilicdaroglu has led the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) for more than a decade of election defeats.
  • Critics say those election defeats show that he is not strong enough to defeat Erdogan and lead Turkey. A leading member of his own alliance, the head of the nationalist Iyi Party Meral Aksener, initially rejected Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy in March, before reversing her position.
  • Before politics, he was a finance ministry specialist and then chaired Turkey’s Social Insurance Institution for most of the 1990s.
  • Promises: return to a “strong parliamentary system”, solving the Kurdish issue, sending Syrian refugees back home, and moving closer to the European Union and the United States.

Muharrem Ince, 58

  • The Homeland Party candidate – the only contender without an alliance backing him – brands his movement as the “third way”.
  • Former CHP deputy and party candidate for the 2018 election, where he came second. He later split from the party, which he is critical of.
  • Ince says Turkish social democrats and secular nationalists should unite against “Islamist” political parties.
  • His confrontational manner has led to scraps with journalists, and Kilicdaroglu supporters believe he is taking away support from their candidate and helping Erdogan.
  • Promises: sending refugees back to their home countries and “restoring” secularism in Turkey.

Sinan Ogan, 55

  • Candidate of the nationalist Ancestral Alliance (ATA) of three parties.
  • Ogan has an academic and international finance development background.
  • Former member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the Erdogan-led AK Party.
  • As an MHP candidate, he was elected as the deputy for Igdır, a city in eastern Turkey, in 2011 and expelled from the party in 2015 for internal opposition.
  • He has been accused of having xenophobic and far-right policies, particularly when it comes to Syrian refugees.
  • Promises: sending refugees back to their home countries and supporting the unity of Turkic states.
Interative_Turkey_elections_2023_5_Political party barometer
(Al Jazeera)

What are the key election issues?


  • Interest rate cuts sparked a currency crisis in late 2021, sending inflation to a 24-year peak of 85.51 percent last year.
  • But Erdogan’s supporters say he has revolutionised Turkey’s economy, built infrastructure, and developed regions traditionally ignored by the central Turkish government.


  • Two massive earthquakes that hit southeast Turkey on February 6 left more than 50,000 people dead and widespread destruction – reconstruction is expected to cost billions of dollars.
  • An estimated 14 million people – 16 percent of the population – were affected by the earthquakes.

Brain drain

  • An increasing number of the country’s educated and highly skilled people are leaving the country for political and economic concerns.
  • According to the Turkish Statistical Institution, 286,000 people aged between 20 and 29 left Turkey between 2019 and 2021.

Values and identity

  • Erdogan, as prime minister, lifted the ban on women who wear the hijab working in the public sector in 2013, a move hailed by many as a validation of their place in society and their religious observance.
  • The CHP had previously backed the hijab ban and Erdogan says it may be reinstated – along with all the erasure of identity that represents – if he were to lose, as part of other measures that would threaten the values of the AKP supporter base.


  • Erdogan’s detractors accuse him of reversing democratic gains in Turkey, particularly following the 2016 failed coup attempt, which saw thousands arrested.
  • Critics also say that freedom of the press has deteriorated, with 90 percent of all Turkish media outlets under the control of Erdogan’s government and businessmen close to him.


  • Anti-refugee sentiment is rising, with rising reports of violence, abuse and crime between Syrian and Turkish communities.
  • According to the government, some 3.7 million of the total 5.5 million foreigners in Turkey are Syrian refugees. The government has been praised internationally for its refugee policy, but opposition candidates have been playing on rising hostility towards refugees.

Interative_Turkey_elections_2023_5_Election issues revised



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Boris Johnson's bombshell exit from Parliament leaves UK politics reeling – National Post



Johnson quit after being told he will be sanctioned for misleading Parliament over ‘partygate,’ a series of rule-breaking gatherings in the prime minister’s office during the coronavirus pandemic

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LONDON (AP) — Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson left chaos in his wake Saturday after quitting Parliament with a blast at fellow lawmakers he accused of ousting him in a “witch hunt.”

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As opponents jeered, the Conservative government absorbed the shock of yet another Johnson earthquake, while a band of loyal supporters insisted Britain’s divisive ex-leader could still make a comeback. Two Johnson allies joined him in quitting the House of Commons, piling pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Less than a year after he was forced out as prime minister by his own Conservative Party, Johnson unexpectedly stepped down as a lawmaker late Friday — “at least for now,” he said in a self-justifying resignation statement.

Johnson quit after being told he will be sanctioned for misleading Parliament over “partygate,” a series of rule-breaking gatherings in the prime minister’s office during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson was among scores of people fined by police over late-night soirees, boozy parties and “wine time Fridays” that broke restrictions the government had imposed on the country.

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Johnson has acknowledged misleading Parliament when he assured lawmakers that no rules had been broken, but he said he didn’t do so deliberately, genuinely believing the gatherings were legitimate work events.

A standards committee investigating him appears to see things differently. Johnson quit after receiving the report of the Privileges Committee, which has not yet been made public. Johnson faced suspension from the House of Commons if the committee found he had lied deliberately.

Johnson, 58, called the committee “a kangaroo court” that was determined to “drive me out of Parliament.”

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“Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts,” Johnson said.

The committee, which has a majority Conservative membership, said Johnson had “impugned the integrity” of the House of Commons with his attack. It said it would meet Monday “to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly.”

The resignation will trigger a special election to replace Johnson as a lawmaker for a suburban London seat in the House of Commons. Two allies of Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams, also quit, sparking three near-simultaneous by-elections — an unwanted headache for Sunak.

Johnson is a charismatic and erratic figure whose career has seen a series of scandals and comebacks. The rumpled, Latin-spouting populist with a mop of blond hair has held major offices but also spent periods on the political sidelines before Britain’s exit from the European Union propelled him to the top.

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A champion of Brexit, Johnson led the Conservatives to a landslide victory in 2019 and took Britain out of the EU the following year. But he became mired in scandals over his ethics and judgment, and was forced out as prime minister by his own party in mid-2022.

By quitting Parliament, he avoids a suspension that could have seen him ousted from his Commons seat by his constituents, leaving him free to run for Parliament again in future. His resignation statement suggested he was mulling that option. It was highly critical of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who served as Treasury chief in Johnson’s government before jumping ship with many other colleagues in July 2022 — resignations that forced Johnson out as prime minister.

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Conservative poll ratings went into decline during the turbulent final months of Johnson’s term and have not recovered. Opinion polls regularly put the opposition Labour Party 20 points or more ahead. A national election must be held by the end of 2024.

“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk,” Johnson said in a statement that sounded like a leadership pitch. “Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.”

Johnson allies expressed hope that the former prime minister was not finished. Conservative lawmaker John Redwood said Johnson “has made it very clear that he doesn’t regard this as the end of his involvement in British politics.”

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But many others questioned whether a politician who has often seemed to defy political gravity could make yet another comeback.

Others compared Johnson to Donald Trump, who has similarly claimed persecution by a host of enemies after being indicted on federal charges over his hoarding of classified documents after leaving office.

“It all feels very Trumpian,” said Will Walden, who worked for Johnson when he was mayor of London and U.K. foreign secretary.

“He has one song to play, and that is ‘I was robbed,”‘ Walden told Sky News.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said Johnson often drew inspiration from his political hero, Winston Churchill, who led Britain to victory in World War II only to be ousted from power in 1945 — and then to return to office several years later.

“I believe that he thinks that he can spend some time in … the wilderness before the Conservative Party and the country calls upon him once again in its hour of need,” Bale said.

“Frankly, I think that is unlikely. I think partygate has ensured that he is toxic as far as many voters are concerned. And I think the way he has behaved over the last two or three days — and some people will say over the last two or three years — probably means that most of his colleagues would rather he disappeared in a puff of smoke.”

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Unmarked graves: Lawmakers should act now, Murray says – CTV News



Ahead of the release of her interim report on progress as Canada’s special interlocutor on unmarked graves at former residential schools, Kimberly Murray says lawmakers at all levels of government shouldn’t be waiting for her findings to act.

Citing examples of gaps she’s already identified, such as the drawn-out process to obtain records and the various approvals needed to access privately-owned land for ceremonies and searches, Murray said there’s a lot that governments could be doing now, as she continues her work.

“I speak a little bit about this in the interim report, about some of the things like waiving fees for records for communities to be able to access information,” Murray told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview. “We don’t need to wait to the end of my mandate to make some changes and put some things in place.”


A series of devastating discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada over the last two years reinvigorated calls to action. This prompted the federal government to appoint Murray to work with Indigenous people and make recommendations to strengthen federal laws and practices to protect and preserve unmarked burial sites.

Murray was also asked to help Indigenous communities weave through jurisdictional and legal hurdles at burial sites, and facilitate dialogue with relevant governments and institutions, including churches. Murray’s appointment also included plans to address issues around the identification and protection of unmarked graves, including the repatriation of remains.

Murray is set to table an interim report on her progress on June 16, marking a year since she assumed the role.

She told Kapelos that her coming report will highlight additional areas of concern identified by survivors and communities about the barriers they’re facing in trying to find their children, from costs associated with accessing documentation, to the need for legislative reform.

“It shouldn’t take 50 years to find out where your child is buried,” Murray said. “And we write about a couple of examples in our interim report that’s coming out.”

“It’s just terrible that families are having to go through this to determine what happened to their child,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Murray, in the video player above.

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Politics roundup: David Johnston, budget tactics and byelections –



Front Burner

From foreign interference to attempts to block the budget, we dive into some of the top stories simmering in Ottawa, in the final couple weeks before MPs break for the summer.

Members of Parliament are just a couple weeks away from their summer break, but the issues swirling around Ottawa are still ramping up. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)


Front Burner25:04Politics roundup: David Johnston, budget tactics and byelections

MPs have just a couple weeks before Parliament is set to break for the summer, but there’s still a lot going on in Ottawa. David Johnston continues to fend off calls to step aside as special rapporteur on foreign interference, Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre is signalling Conservatives will continue to protest the Liberals’ budget in the Senate, despite its passage in the House of Commons, and the People’s Party of Canada leader is trying to make his return to the Parliament.

On this episode, guest host Saroja Coelho dives into the top political stories with Catherine Cullen, host of the CBC political podcast, The House.

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