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Turkey's democratic opposition is testing cracks in Erdogan's iron grip on voters

ISTANBUL – When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for early elections two months ago, his victory seemed certain. But with the upcoming vote on Sunday, the man who has brought Turkey to power over 15 years seems to be getting more and more vulnerable.

The question will be how vulnerable he is

The vote will be traced far beyond the borders of Turkey will decide on the direction of this country of 80 million – whether it continues the path of populist authoritarianism with Mr. Erdogan or a turn for democratic change dares.

A seasoned politician with a fervent support base, Mr. Erdogan still leads the polls. But dissatisfaction with a sudden slump is spreading. Such is the concern over Mr Erdogan's increasing authoritarianism, which, if he wins, will become even freer under a newly strengthened presidency.

"A strong Turkey needs a strong leader," Mr. Erdogan shouted in front of the crowd of several hundred thousand at his last Istanbul election campaign last Sunday. "May God keep us on this path by becoming more powerful."

Whether Mr. Erdogan can achieve the victory he wants by 50 percent gaining votes – avoiding an outflow – depends on how deep the concerns and dissatisfaction are

Especially the collapse of agriculture, a collapse in value The lira and a sudden rise in food prices could shock Mr Erdogan with the polls Party workers say. Much of the president's support was among conservative country people.

"I'm hesitant this time," said Bulut, who sells fresh juice from a car near Istanbul's ferry docks. For fear of setbacks he gave only his first name. He said he voted in favor of the governing party over the past 16 years, but is complaining angrily about the deteriorating economy

"No jobs," he said. "I've been here for 22 years, it's starting to get worse, our money is worthless."

If 7 to 8 percent of formerly loyal voters leave the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the ruling party will lose said Ozer Sencar, who heads the independent Metropole Electoral Board. There are already signs of apostates, Sencar said, pointing out that some of them had voted against Erdogan in the last referendum to expand the presidency's power, which was narrow.

"This is the group that will determine the fate of the election," he said.

Most of the group are conservative Islamists among the Kurds, who are disappointed that Mr. Erdogan has not kept his promise to keep peace with Kurdish separatists, Sencar said.

Four opposition parties-the Republican People's Party, the Good Party, the Felicity Party, and the Small Democratic People's Party-have formed an alliance to maximize their attack on Mr. Erdogan. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…=view&id=167 Mr Erdogan broke the playing field nearly two years ago after a failed coup led the government to Favor to change greatly. Erdogan used the additional powers to arrest political opponents, including nine Kurdish MPs and dozens of Kurdish party officials, as well as 70,000 students and activists, as well as tens of thousands of members of the military and public employees. Demonstrations are prohibited and access to national television is strictly controlled.

The Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas has fought out of prison where he is being held while charged with terrorism. He relies on a team of lawyers to spread his messages on social media. And last week he was allowed to record a single election speech in prison, which was broadcast on Turkish radio and television or TRT

The Republican People's Party, which has a long tradition of secularism, has put several Islamists on its party list to find an Islamist alternative to Erdogans A.K.P.

to found. One of the co-founders of the A.K.P. With Erdogan, former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener is running for parliament on the Republican People's Party list in the conservative city of Konya.

He astounded the villagers at meetings in an agricultural district with sharp criticism of Mr. Erdogan, which is never heard in the mainstream media.

"If you can not buy food and clothing for yourself, it means that the economy is not growing," he said, and turned against the government's claims of 7 percent growth] He accused Erdogan of farming in the country Neglecting Turkey to earn money for groceries.

"They want to farm their land, but this government made us totally dependent on imports," he said. "All you think is looting the land."

A shopkeeper in Cayhan Village told Mr. Sener that the villagers were too scared to tell the truth, but that almost all of them would turn their backs on Mr. Erdogan.

"Something will happen," said Bulent Ecevit Tatlidil, a member of the Executive Bureau of the Republican People's Party, which is from the agricultural district.

Outrage over a sudden lack of onions has even hit the main television news. Ms. Aksener accused Mr. Erdogan of neglecting agriculture for treason.

"One million are unemployed," she told a rally in Istanbul. "The fields are empty, livestock is ready. The destruction of Turkish agriculture is treachery."

But the opposition also opposes any kind of disability, including fraud and violence.

Mr. Sener's campaign office in Konya was attacked last week by members of the local youth wing of the AKP, who smashed a Sener poster and smashed campaign cars.

The Election Observation Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has noted in a preliminary report that the President enjoys favorable conditions, while other parties in the Kurdish areas of the Southeast are struggling with obstacles and having a pervasive atmosphere of fear ,

Opposition parties hired 100,000 election observation volunteers However, each polling station faces many challenges as regulations have changed to allow the counting of polluted ballots and closure of some polling stations and the transfer of votes to other locations.

Violence has already broken out in the southeast; An electoral dispute led to the deaths of three people in the city of Suruc. Some analysts speculated that the conflict was about fixing the vote for Mr. Erdogan.

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