Turkey: can Kılıçdaroğlu defeat Erdoğan?

The Turkish opposition alliance made up of six parties has agreed on CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as its joint presidential candidate after almost splitting up over the issue on the weekend. Commentators assess the candidate's prospects.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The right man at the right time

Kılıçdaroğlu would lead Turkey back to democracy, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung is convinced:

“Although Kılıçdaroğlu is no match for tribune of the people Erdoğan on stage, he is a courageous, confident speaker who doesn't shy away from sharply attacking Erdoğan. In turbulent Turkish politics he has shown steeliness and perseverance. ... Even his opponents don't deny that Kılıçdaroğlu is modest and honest. If he is elected president, there is little doubt that he will return Turkey to a parliamentary system as promised and turn the presidency back into a representative function. ... [The opposition] must make it clear to the Turks that in the end this is not about individuals but about the future of Turkey.”

News.bg (BG) /

Not an election winner

The opposition leader lacks charisma, news.bg concludes:

“Kılıçdaroğlu's main problem is that he simply doesn't inspire people. He doesn't carry the political virus that infects people and turns them into voters. Since becoming leader of the CHP in 2010, he's suffered a damaging series of defeats at the hands of the president's AKP. The turnaround came only in the local elections four years ago. However, even then voters didn't vote for Kılıçdaroğlu but for other politicians from the party, such as İmamoğlu and Yavaş. ... Kemal is definitely no Atatürk. This makes him the most desirable opponent from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's point of view.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Reach out to the Kurds

Commenting in Habertürk, journalist Nagehan Alçı criticises the leader of the İYİ party's statement that she would meet with the pro-Kurdish HDP but not bring its demands to the floor:

“If the government front exerts pressure, the İYİ party will continue its harsh HDP rhetoric. I don't think there will be any compromises. If that is the case, it might not be easy to motivate HDP voters to vote for Kılıçdaroğlu. The most sensible approach would be for the leaders to revise their HDP strategy. But we saw in the candidate dispute that the [six-party alliance] Table refuses to talk about the most controversial issues. So I'm not sure whether it will work on and agree on a common HDP strategy.”

In.gr (GR) /

The president should pack his bags

Website In.gr says there are many signs that Turkish voters will turn against Erdoğan:

“The outlook is getting gloomier by the day for the Turkish president. To the extent that the polls can be relied on at all, they've already said he should pack his bags in his palace in Ankara. And the polls are not the only ones telling him to go: even in Turkish stadiums, at the matches of the big football teams, the fans are now shouting slogans, not for their teams or against their opponents, but all of them together against the government. The man is in a situation that could not be worse for a pre-election candidate.”

Karar (TR) /

United for a better democracy

The reconciliation paves the way for a new political system, journalist Taha Akyol writes in the conservative daily Karar:

“If the National Alliance comes to power this time, we will be trying out how the country manages with a 'multiple leadership' that has already defined its agenda and reform programme in advance. ... From this perspective, I think Kılıçdaroğlu is the right choice. He has been practising cooperation since 2018. I hope that he won't fall victim, as Erdoğan did, to the passion for personalising the administration, populism and maximising his own power, always driven by the ambition to win one more election. ... If Kılıçdaroğlu does become intoxicated by power, other party leaders will be able to apply checks and balances to stop him.”