Erdogan absent from election rallies for a third day

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled his election appearances for a third day Friday after falling ill with what officials described as an intestinal infection, reported news agencies.

It is not clear whether he will be able to resume his regularly scheduled program during the three-day weekend.

Erdogan, who has governed Turkey for two decades as prime minister and then president, is seeking a third presidential term in Turkey’s May 14 elections. He had been due to appear at a bridge opening and a political rally in the southern city of Adana, but his schedule changed to show he would attend the opening ceremony via video link.


Erdogan spoke by phone Friday with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio on several matters, including the Ukraine-Russia grain and fertilizer deal they helped arrange, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. He said they discussed “how to guarantee the improvement, expansion and extension” of the deal, which expires May 18.


Erdogan became ill during a TV interview on Tuesday evening with what Health Minister Fahrettin Koca later said was a “gastrointestinal infection.” His election rallies planned for Wednesday and Thursday were canceled.


He looked pale Thursday as he inaugurated a nuclear power plant via video in his first public appearance since his illness. During his Friday video address Erdogan seemed well as he spoke for about 10 minutes from behind a desk.


Other officials sought to dispel concerns over the 69-year-old leader’s health ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Recent polls showed a slight lead for Erdogan’s main challenger amid an economic downturn and a February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.


Erdogan, who underwent intestinal surgery in 2011, has ruled Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and as president since 2014. He campaigned hard in recent weeks, attending several events across the country every day.

PA Turkey commentary


Erdogan had fallen ill in the summer of 2020, a condition which started with him falling asleep briefly during a live TV broadcast. His condition had never been formally diagnosed, but he was visibly weak and at times incoherent until end of October.


His recurring  ailments are the gist of a huge rumor mill in social media, where he had been rumored to have suffered a heart attack (officially denied by his press office), as well as a bout of epilepsy and new cycle of chemotherapy because of a colon cancer.


PATurkey is  in position to confirm or reject these allegations, but several medical experts commenting on TV expressed the view that a stomach flu or food poisoning would manifest different conditions. Political experts predict that a brief disappearance from election rallies would not cause a significant loss of momentum in his quest to be reelected as president, or his Republic Alliance to lose support in the Grand Assembly.


On the other hand, with his partner Bahceli not campaigning actively, and his rival Kilicdaroglu,  the other five leaders of the Nation Alliance and CHP’s two star mayors Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas touring the country relentlessly, the longer his medical leave of absence, the higher the probability his side would suffer loss of momentum on 14 May, the day of dual elections.


AP, PATurkey Staff


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.