Turkish President Erdogan sustains popularity despite criticism

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ANKARA (AP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly overcome political crises to stay in power for two decades.

Massive protests, corruption allegations, a failed military coup, and a massive influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.

Turkey’s people and economy are currently plagued by rapid inflation, which many are still recovering from February’s devastating earthquake, exacerbated by the government’s slow response.

But Erdogan, an increasingly authoritarian populist, will enter Sunday’s runoff as the clear favorite to oppose leader Kemal Kirikdaroglu after narrowly missing out on victory in the first round. So what accounts for the longevity and great appeal of even weak hands?

Erdogan, 69, has earned deep loyalty from conservatives and religious adherents by promoting Islamic values ​​in a country steeped in secularism for nearly a century. He has strengthened his grip on power by using state resources for political gain, including generous spending on infrastructure to please voters and tight control of the media to silence criticism.

And by the way he played on the world stage, he won many Turks over to his side, showed that his country had an independent stance, and could deploy its armed forces when the East and the West were at odds.

Erdogan’s popularity in times of economic crisis also seems to come from the mere fact of his perseverance. Interviews with voters and analysts suggest that many would rather have some stability than more change.

“Usually during national crises like this, people rally around their leaders,” said Gonul Tol, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington. “Voters do not have enough confidence in the opposition’s ability to rectify the situation.”

Erdogan is already Turkey’s longest-serving head of state, and if he wins a majority of votes in the run-off, he will extend his term by 30 years until 2028. He won 49.5% of the vote in the first ballot, four points ahead of the Social Democratic Party’s Kirikda Rogul, who has led the country’s main opposition since 2010. And on Monday, Erdogan won the support of the third-placed far-right candidate, giving him a boost to the runoff.
He has strengthened his grip on power by using state resources for political gain, including generous spending on infrastructure to please voters and tight control of the media to silence criticism.

And by the way he played on the world stage, he won many Turks over to his side, showed that his country had an independent stance, and could deploy its armed forces when the East and the West were at odds.

Erdogan’s popularity in times of economic crisis also seems to come from the mere fact of his perseverance. Interviews with voters and analysts suggest that many would rather have some stability than more change. “Usually during national crises like this, people rally around their leaders,” said Gonul Tol, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington. “Voters do not have enough confidence in the opposition’s ability to rectify the situation.”

Erdogan is already Turkey’s longest-serving head of state, and a majority vote in the runoff would extend his term by 30 years until 2028.

He won 49.5% of the vote in his first ballot, four points ahead of the Social Democratic Party’s Kirikda Rogul, who has led the country’s main opposition since 2010. And on Monday, Erdogan won the support of the third-placed far-right candidate, giving him a boost to the runoff.