Who is the “Turkish Gandhi” who wants to overthrow Erdogan?

They call him “Turkish Gandhi” because of his slender physique and humble style that marked his long political career. It has nothing to do with the dictatorial attitude of his historical rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yet, after the failed coup that allowed the Turkish leader to consolidate power and tighten judicial control over the opposition, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was one of the few political defenders who could openly challenge and defeat the “Sultan”. On the field, as in Istanbul and Ankara. That’s why, after two decades of undisputed rule, the mottled parties decided to rally around Erdogan to oust him from the top of the country.

humble beginnings

74 years ago, in a deserted Anatolian village, Hz. School was certainly the instrument of his social salvation: he graduated with honors, studied finance at the university, and after graduation entered the public administration as a tax inspector, gradually warming the ranks until he became one of the highest civil servants.

His professional career went hand in hand with his political career: In 2002, he was elected as a deputy from the Istanbul constituency from the ranks of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main centre-left force in the country. He became its leader in 2010 and from then on began a personal challenge to Erdogan, calling himself “Mr. It’s a way of underlining that Kılıçdaroğlu belongs to the Alevis, a minority of the Islamic faith who have faced discrimination and massacres in Turkey in the past and are considered heretical by the Orthodox Sunnis, Erdogan’s large electoral pool. Alevis observe a moderate form of Islam that advocates tolerance towards all religions and ethnic groups and equality between men and women. It is the opposite of the orthodox turn that Erdogan has imposed in recent years to consolidate his power.

Table of Six

If Kılıçdaroğlu is elected, he will be the first Alevi to become Turkey’s president. Also, the CHP leader, who comes from a region with a strong Kurdish presence, is seen as a potential mediator of the growing tensions between the Ankara government and Turkey’s Kurdish minority. no coincidence The Work and Freedom Alliance, made up of six pro-Kurdish parties led by the left-leaning Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), can only form an opposition front against Erdogan. Commander Kılıçdaroğlu. The Kurdish coalition was accredited with 10% to 12% of the vote, a trophy that could be decisive in the Sultan’s deposition.

Kilicdaroglu, excluding the Kurds, is backed by a motley coalition of six parties ranging from the centre-left to the nationalist right. According to recent polls, this renamed “Table of Six” could reach 40% of the vote in a head-to-head situation with Erdogan’s AKP and its far-right ally MHP. Both parties of the current majority are experiencing a sharp decline compared to the 2018 elections: the reasons must be sought above all in the severe inflation that has eroded the incomes of Turkish families and which the government has been unable to prevent so far. “This is my fight for your rights. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in April 2022 after refusing to pay electricity bills to protest sharp price increases.

For Erdogan, there is also the stumbling block of the serious earthquake that hit the country at the beginning of February: The President is speculated by many not only for his failure to manage an adequate response to the emergency, but also for the anti-seismic program launched years ago in the face of construction. In the background are accusations of corruption against his party, balanced by the image of honesty that Kılıçdaroğlu has managed to build over time.

indecisive persuasion

But will all this be enough to put an end to the reign of the Sultan, who has ruled Turkey between the prime minister and the presidency since 2003? According to various observers, “Turkish Gandhi” is guilty of excessive softness and his secular positions risk little penetration of the Sunni majority. Kılıçdaroğlu is aware of his limitations and has tried to address them in recent years. In 2017, amid the post-coup crackdown that led to the (often controversial) arrests of many opposition political leaders, the former state official flexed his muscles by putting himself at the head of a group. 420-kilometer march between Ankara and Istanbul to protest Erdogan’s authoritarian regime and extrajudicial trials. Kılıçdaroğlu also softened his Alevi attitudes to wink at his more conservative allies, for example, he brought veiled women to the CHP.

“Our table is a table of peace and brotherhood. Our main goal is to bring prosperous, peaceful and joyful days to Turkey. We will rule Turkey through consultation and consensus,” he said. The agreement between the six parties contains 12 items, including perhaps most importantly restoring the centrality of parliament and reversing Erdogan’s presidential orientation. When it comes to foreign policy, the West hopes to find a leader in him who can bring Turkey back to Europe. Kılıçdaroğlu will now have a few weeks to convince the still undecided 9 million voters: the polls will open on 14 May.

Source: Today IT