Kılıçdaroğlu will go after nationalist votes, adopt aggressive campaign

The main opposition bloc’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will go for a more aggressive and nationalist campaign for the second round despite the “spring”-themed first round election campaign praising values like “fraternity” and “inclusiveness.” After the third presidential candidate Sinan Oğan garnered 5.17 percent of the votes and became a “kingmaker,” Kılıçdaroğlu's strategy will become to attract the far-right voters.

Kılıçdaroğlu on May 17 meets other leaders from Nation Alliance to discuss the campaign for the second-run.

Serkan Alan / Gazete Duvar

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has finished organizing for the second round of the presidential elections. Nation Alliance's presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu held a series of meetings with party cadres to adopt new strategies for the next 10 days. 

According to CHP officials, the possibility of a runoff in the presidential race was "a fact that was not forgotten" even before the May 14 elections. Kılıçdaroğlu's second-place finish in the first round of the elections revealed "the need for a new discourse," and the election results opened the door for Kılıçdaroğlu to produce "harsher discourse."

Following the election results, Kılıçdaroğlu held long meetings with his vice presidential candidates Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş to determine the second-round strategy. In the meetings, top party officials discussed a campaign centered on convincing nationalist voters along with a different strategy for young people and women voters. 

The meetings concluded that İmamoğlu and his close team should be more effective in the campaign process. These news strategies were also shared with the leaders of the political parties in the Nation Alliance on May 17. 

The CHP staff stated that Kılıçdaroğlu's first-round election campaign praised values like “fraternity” and “inclusiveness” and discarded the government’s constant allegations regarding the “cooperation with terrorist organizations.” They stated that however President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) managed to drive voters away from Kılıçdaroğlu by accusing the Nation Alliance of "collaborating with terrorism.”

The AKP especially accelerated its campaign against the CHP leader when the leftist Labor and Freedom Alliance announced its support for him.

Even though the Labor and Freedom Alliance secured approximately 10 percent support for Kılıçdaroğlu, the Nation Alliance will adopt a new strategy about the “terrorism” charges coming from the opponents. 

The accusation of terrorism will be answered "more concretely" and “aggressively” by revealing what the AKP has done in the past. Furthermore, the main opposition bloc will use a harsher discourse regarding the refugees in order to allure the third presidential candidate Sinan Oğan. 

In a video shared on May 17, Kılıçdaroğlu evoked the anti-refugee sentiment and said: “I call on everyone from here. We have not found this homeland on the street. We will not leave our homeland to this mentality that placed 10 million irregular refugees among us. We have said that ‘border is honor.’”

Far-right ATA Alliance’s candidate Oğan received 5.17 percent of the votes and acquired the role of the “kingmaker.” He comes from an ultra-nationalist political tradition and has extreme policy ideals regarding the millions of refugees living in Turkey. Even though he received 2.8 million votes in the first round, it is unclear whether he can mobilize these voters or not. 

ATA Alliance did not gain any seats from the parliament even though they received 2.43 percent of the votes. Despite the other political parties, the alliance does not have a well-established organization that can easily mobilize the electorate. 

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)