In the midst of an economic downturn, Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan’s challenger, encounters difficulties.

The first round of the Turkish presidential election has left the opposition disappointed as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as the clear winner. Despite the country’s economic troubles, millions of Turks still see Erdogan as their only viable leader. The election results have exposed the deep divisions within the country. The runoff election in May will determine whether Erdogan secures another term. Turkey is a key player in geopolitics with a population of about 85 million. Erdogan has been in power for two decades, first as mayor of Istanbul and then as prime minister and president. He oversaw the country’s transformation into an emerging market economic powerhouse and championed nationalist pride. Opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu criticized Erdogan’s authoritarianism and his influence over Turkey’s central bank. However, the opposition’s six-party platform lacked coordination, and critics pointed out the CHP’s repeated losses to Erdogan’s AK party. The surprising sentencing of popular CHP member and Istanbul’s mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, cast doubt on Erdogan’s grip on power. Erdogan’s AK party also won a majority in the Turkish parliamentary elections. Economists warn that Erdogan’s financial instruments to give the economy a false sense of stability are unsustainable. Erdogan’s massive outperformance in the first round could determine the final outcome of the election.

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