Turkey: how are the parties handling religion?

The opposition Nation Alliance led by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has a clear lead against Erdoğan's AKP electoral alliance in the polls for the presidential election slated for 14 May. The AKP is now negotiating with the Hezbollah-affiliated Hüdapar and the Islamist Yeniden Refah Partisi in a bid to expand its electoral alliance, while Kılıçdaroğlu is wooing conservative voters. Commentators find both strategies questionable.

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Yetkin Report (TR) /

AKP women should be on their guard

The Yenid Refah Partisi is demading the abolition of the Act to Protect Family and Prevent Violence against Women in exchange for its support. Erdoğan is thus putting women's rights at risk for the sake of a handful of votes, Yetkin Report worries:

“Clearly, the attacks by certain Islamist groups on gender equality, with the help of their affiliated media and political arms, have intensified and made headway in recent years. ... Don't the educated women of the AK Party see that they would also be losing their last achievements if they limit women's rights to the headscarf? Do they not see how a handful of religion and faith peddlers have taken democratic politics hostage with their blackmailing for votes, or do they not see the patriarchate, the tie-wearing Taliban mentality, as all that dangerous?”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Kılıçdaroğlu trying to conceal CHP's secularity

The Turkish opposition candidate is trying to attract conservative voters by coming across as more pro-religion than he really is, the pro-government Daily Sabah believes:

“The main problem is that Kılıçdaroğlu is not new to politics. He has been around for more than two decades, and it is virtually impossible to make the people forget how detached the [traditionally secular] CHP is from the rest of the population and its history of oppression – which the prominent opposition leader personally acknowledges. ... Kılıçdaroğlu claims to have 'rid himself of oppression of any kind' today. But will that be enough, bearing in mind that he once blocked the abolishment of the ban on headscarves by lodging a complaint with the Constitutional Court?”