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Turkey's Main Opposition Leader Gains Momentum in Upcoming Elections

As Turkey gears up for its highly anticipated elections on May 14, the race between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is heating up. With a narrow lead in opinion polls, Kilicdaroglu, backed by a six-party alliance and leading the Republican People's Party (CHP), promises to bring democracy and freedom to Turkey if he wins. Prioritizing relations with the West over the Kremlin, he aims for free media and judicial independence. As the tight race is expected to go to a second round two weeks after the initial election, a new poll suggests that Kilicdaroglu may win the presidency, but Erdogan's alliance is ahead in the race for parliament.

Erdogan recently reappeared on the campaign trail in western Turkey, attending a rally in the port city of Izmir. The event demonstrated strong turnout in an opposition stronghold, with no signs of the illness that caused Erdogan to drop out of key events earlier in the week. The upcoming elections for the presidency and parliament are expected to be his toughest challenge yet after 20 years in power. Erdogan's main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a secular candidate backed by an alliance of six parties, will hold a rally in the same spot on Sunday. Opinion polls give a slight lead to Kilicdaroglu, but the election could be a close call. Inflation in Turkey is officially around 50%, with experts blaming Erdogan's unorthodox economic policies.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish party, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and its leftist allies support President Erdogan's main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, in the May 14 presidential election. HDP is the third-largest party in Turkey's parliament and has won over 10% of the vote in past national elections. HDP represents a community accounting for about a fifth of Turkey's population. HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar calls the upcoming vote "the most crucial in Turkey's history." HDP faces the threat of closure over alleged "terror" ties and is running its parliamentary candidates under the banner of a new party called the Party of Greens and the Left Future. HDP's support expands the reach of Kilicdaroglu's six-party alliance, which includes liberals, nationalists, and an ultraconservative party.

In the weeks leading up to the elections, 110 people were arrested in Turkey over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Raids were conducted in 21 provinces, including Diyarbakir. Arrests occurred weeks ahead of May 14 parliamentary and presidential elections. President Erdogan has been accused of cracking down on PKK-linked opposition for electoral support. Tayip Temel, deputy leader of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), links arrests to Erdogan's efforts to secure a third term. Detainees include politicians, journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists. Diyarbakir Bar Association says lawyers are banned from contacting clients for 24 hours. Erdogan faces a tough electoral test against opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. HDP extends tacit support to Kilicdaroglu by not fielding a presidential candidate. Former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas is imprisoned for various offenses. Erdogan's support has taken hits due to a struggling economy, accusations of authoritarianism, and his response to February earthquakes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled campaign appearances due to illness during a live TV interview on Tuesday. Erdogan will not visit Mersin on Thursday, where he was scheduled to attend a ceremony marking the inaugural loading of fuel at a new power plant. He will attend the ceremony via video conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan's TV interview was disrupted as the 69-year-old president became sick with stomach flu, leading to the cancellation of three campaign speeches on Wednesday. Erdogan faces a tough election as six opposition parties form an alliance against him amid Turkey's worst cost-of-living crisis in two decades. The opposition alliance has chosen Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74, as its joint presidential contender in the May 14 vote.