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A Watershed Moment For Turkey

With Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections now set for May 14th—a month earlier than originally planned—who will effectively challenge Erdogan? We will find out in February when the six-party opposition alliance announces its candidate. But the alliance has already said it would unveil a proposal to completely reverse the executive presidential system Erdogan put in place to give the president more power. They will seek to transition back to a parliamentary system. 

The opposition alliance, led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), will be challenging the AKP, Erdogan’s party, which is allied with the far-right MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). 

These elections are widely viewed as the last chance to keep Turkey from descending into an authoritarian regime under Erdogan. If he wins these elections, he has a strong chance of solidifying that much power. 

This is not an authoritarian regime—yet. It’s tempting to say it is because Erdogan has been arresting critics and sidelining opposition at will as we get closer to elections. But elections are still competitive, even if they will not be completely fair. Erdogan’s victory is not assured. 

The economy is a key issue, which is also why Erdogan is rolling out a number of measures ahead of May 14 that are decidedly populist. 

But the Kurdish question is also at play here. The Kurdish vote could be a big boost for the opposition…

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