AP and Reuters

What the voters say as Turkey votes in election runoff


Ballots with pictures of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition alliance Kemal Kilicdaroglu are pictured at a polling station during the second round of the presidential election in Istanbul, Turkey May 28, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Here are some views from Turkish citizens as the country voted on Sunday in an election runoff that may extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s rule into a third decade or see a transfer of power to his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

In the capital Ankara:

“We all see what has happened over the past 20 years. We all see how our country changed. Nobody can deny this,” said housewife Songul Aslan, 45, after voting for Erdogan.

“I voted for our country to continue improving, getting better in every aspect. Economic hardships are there, but they are solvable issues. Turkey can overcome anything as long as we stand strong.”

Gulcan Demiroz, 32, said she hoped the vote would bring change and that otherwise her friends would go abroad, as she and her boyfriend were considering doing, for a better life.

“This country deserves better. We need a collective of minds, not a powerful, cold, distant man who rules single handedly,” said Demiroz, who works in the textile industry, after voting for Kilicdaroglu.

“We are voting today for our children, for our grandchildren, for them to see a better future,” said 66-year-old Kemal Ustunel.

“Inflation is skyrocketing and I can’t see anyone in the current government to stop the situation. (Kilicdaroglu) has prepared his teams of wise people. God willing, he will take the country out of this pit.”

“I think it will not be easy for Kilicdaroglu, he is an honest person but not all of his choices were correct,” said Burak, 23, who voted for him after backing 3rd placed candidate Sinan Ogan in the first round on May 14. “I hope he wins and this country can breathe a little after such a long period. Otherwise I’m afraid we’ll see hard times.”

In Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul:

“Turkey became an undemocratic country. I want to see a stronger Turkey, close to the European Union. I want to live in a country that respects rule of law and ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) rulings,” said digital market specialist Sukru Ucar, 35.

“Last time I was more hopeful, but I believe change will happen. If Erdogan wins, I will consider leaving Turkey.”

“I voted for Erdogan because he is a world leader. I voted for him because I appreciate the things he has done for Turkey. He changed the health system for good. He built roads,” said construction worker Omer Kosekol, 58.

“We love him (Erdogan) a lot. With God’s permission he will win. The country has many problems but if anyone can solve them, he can,” said Nuran, who voted at the polling station in Istanbul where Erdogan cast his vote.

“I expect hope to come out of this election,” said opposition supporter Ali Sakrak. “This will be a referendum for our youth and our nation. I hope our citizens will make the right decision.”

In Diyarbakir, largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast:

“In the first round I voted for Kilicdaroglu for the presidency. But this time, (Erdogan’s) AK Party has the majority in parliament. If Kilicdaroglu is elected it will be difficult for it to function,” said Mahmut Cin, 29.

“I voted this time for Erdogan for stability, so that there will not be any problem between parliament and the president.”

“Enough is enough. Change is essential to overcome the economic crisis and problems that Turkey faces, so I voted for Kilicdaroglu again. We are hopeful and determined,” said housewife Canan Tince, 34.

“It is important for Turkey’s future that the president and parliament, where he has a majority, work together under the same roof. Hence I voted for Erdogan again for stability,” said retiree Faruk Gecgel, 54.

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