Fri, 22 Sep 2023

ANKARA, May 27 (Xinhua) -- As the final battle for the Turkish presidency is within 24 hours, millions of Turks are prepared to cast a decisive ballot.

They will choose between incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose long-term ruling witnessed the country's increased regional role, and opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, whose campaign focuses on fixing the economy.

Erdogan, 69, has emerged with a clear lead in the first round on May 14, garnering 49.52 percent of the votes, just shy of a half percentage point to win outright.

Kilicdaroglu, 74, who represents a coalition of six political parties of disparate political views, obtained 44.88 percent. A run-off is therefore to be held for the first time.

The country of 85 million people has more than 64 million eligible voters to elect a president for a five-year term. Whoever reaches 50 percent of the votes on Sunday wins the presidency.

Erdogan is Trkiye's longest-serving leader and held the position of prime minister from 2003 until 2014, after which he was elected president.

His ruling Justice and Development Party has just won a parliamentary majority with the help of his nationalist partner, the Nationalist Movement Party.

Erdogan has garnered strong support from electors and with a comfortable majority in parliament, he may have the psychological advantage for the run-off.

Another point in his favor is the endorsement that he got from Sinan Ogan, a nationalist politician who came third in the first round with 5.17 percent of the votes.

Meanwhile, Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of a joint-opposition bloc, promised to return to orthodox economic policies from Erdogan's unconventional method of taming high inflation with interest rate cuts.

He also favors a more Western-friendly foreign policy than Erdogan who has established close ties with Russia despite its NATO allies' criticism.

A survey published on Thursday by pollster Konda put support for Erdogan at 52.7 percent and Kilicdaroglu at 47.3 percent.

Opinion polls showed that millions see Erdogan as their leader despite the country's current economic troubles and cost-of-living crisis.

"We can manage economic challenges, we will overcome problems, but without Erdogan, the independence of our nation will be at stake," Baki Aslan, a middle-aged grocery shop employee told Xinhua in the capital Ankara's Birlik neighborhood.

During his election campaign, Erdogan underlined the necessity for strong leadership to maintain the country's unity and stability in a volatile region.

Meanwhile, some economists have said that Trkiye's financial woes may deepen in the case of Erdogan's reelection, predicting volatility for the Turkish currency lira which already lost over 70 percent in value against the U.S. dollar since the start of 2022.

"After May 28, it will not be possible to contain the appreciation of the dollar against the lira, we should brace for more turmoil," economist Alaattin Aktas wrote in his column in the Turkish online daily Ekonomim earlier this month.

He said that Trkiye's public and private annual external debt has increased to 203 billion dollars, warning that the weakening of the lira would pose additional challenges to the economy.

In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Kilicdaroglu called on electors to save Trkiye from "economic ruin."

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