Turkey quake victims rally around Erdogan ahead of runoff - GulfToday

Turkey quake victims rally around Erdogan ahead of runoff


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an event. File photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stares down from a campaign poster at the earthquake ruins of Antakya, inspiring confidence in Ahmet Gulyildizoglu ahead of Sunday's election runoff.

Millions across the ravaged region defied expectation and voted for the man who has ruled Turkey for two decades and fell just short of securing another five-year term on May 14.

Erdogan's secular rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, "does not fill you with hope," Gulyildizoglu said in front of a debris-strewn expanse once occupied by his six-floor apartment building.


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"On the other hand, you have an alliance that keeps their promises," the pensioner added, referring to Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party and its far-right allies.

Erdogan's ability to maintain support across Turkey's southeastern disaster zone contributed to Kilicdaroglu's disappointing showing in the first round, which he ended trailing by nearly five points.

The Turkish leader is now the strong favourite, capping a remarkable turnaround.

Seething anger at the government's stuttering response to the February disaster, in which more than 50,000 died, put Erdogan in the unfamiliar position of issuing public apologies.

But Berk Esen, an associate professor at Istanbul's Sabanci University, called Erdogan's election rebound "not very surprising".

Esen argued that the region is filled with pious voters who trusted Erdogan's explanation that the massive toll resulted from an unavoidable act of nature -- not state negligence over lax building standards.

In addition, "the opposition did not campaign heavily in the area and could not offer an alternative, credible message," Esen told the media.

Agence France-Presse



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