Kılıçdaroğlu gains ground in Turkey’s election race against Erdoğan

One week ahead of Turkey’s upcoming May 14 elections, which are considered crucial for the country’s future, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has long been overshadowed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is confident that his time has come to lead Turkey on a new trajectory. As part of an alliance of six opposition parties, Kılıçdaroğlu has been named their candidate to challenge the longtime Turkish president.

Opinion polls indicate that the 74-year-old Kılıçdaroğlu holds an advantage and stands a chance of winning in a second round of voting, thanks to his inclusive campaign addressing the cost-of-living crisis that has diminished Erdoğan’s popularity in recent years.

Other standout promises by the opposition include a pledged return to orthodox economic policies, a restoration of the parliamentary system, an independent judiciary, and improved relations with the West.

Critics argue that Kılıçdaroğlu lacks Erdoğan’s ability to rally crowds and a clear vision for a post-Erdoğan era. Opinion polls, however, suggest a closely contested presidential and parliamentary race, which will not only determine Turkey’s leadership but also its role in addressing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. While many question Kılıçdaroğlu’s ability to defeat Erdoğan, analysts believe that Erdoğan is now closer than ever to facing defeat despite his control over the media, courts, and fiscal spending on social aid in the run-up to the elections.