Erdogans rival has undergone a political makeover ahead of the

Erdogan’s rival has undergone a political makeover ahead of the elections – CNN

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Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the main opposition candidate in Turkey’s presidential elections, has been decidedly calm and meek in his attempt to end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-decade rule.

Much of his campaign messages were conveyed from his typically middle-class Turkish home and posted to Twitter in videos some observers call his “kitchen diaries.”

Seated, often with tea in an “Ince Belli,” a Turkish teacup, he lays out his key campaign promises, announces members of his potential coalition, and sometimes just speaks frankly to the people, quasi welcoming the public into his home.

Such gestures are in stark contrast to the elitist image he and his party once held. Analysts say that a desire to appeal to today’s voters has seen the presidential candidate’s image change over the years. His messages are now aimed at Turkey’s middle class and oppressed, the very constituency Erdogan has always championed.

But Erdogan is now seen by his critics as responsible for the economic turmoil the country is facing, largely due to his inability to bring runaway inflation under control, an issue polls show is high on voters’ agendas who participate in the ballot box Sunday. Inflation in the country was 43% in April, down from its peak of 85% last October.

For Erdogan’s opponents, this is the reason for campaigns against him.

The promise to fix Turkey’s ailing economy was a cornerstone of Kilicdaroglu’s campaign. in one Video posted on Twitter On Friday, he stood in the kitchen and held up staples like bread, eggs and yogurt to remind viewers how much the price had risen in a year. In a separate Four second clipHe says: “If you are poorer today than yesterday, the only reason is Erdogan.”

Gulfem Saydan Sanver, a political communications expert who works with several politicians from the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Kilicdaroglu, said the kitchen has become the “symbol” of the candidate “that he leads a modest (life). “, and he deals with the everyday problems of ordinary Turkish citizens.”

“(He) wanted to show that Erdogan is the one who has forgotten the problems of low-income families,” she said.

However, it should not have been a matter of course that he used Twitter to reach the electorate. The majority of mainstream media in the country is controlled by pro-government forces, prompting the opposition to focus heavily on social media news.

When he took control of the CHP in 2010, Kilicdaroglu had an image problem, experts say. His party was strictly secular and intensely nationalist. Today, however, it unites disparate political actors, tries to woo the Kurdish voice and has even welcomed it Renegades from Erdogan’s Islamist leanings AK party.

According to some of his acquaintances, the career bureaucrat-turned-politician when he was seen as elitist and disconnected from the working class when he took control of the party was considered much like the CHP itself. Erdogan’s government has benefited from this.

“The government used the popular-elite distinction to discredit the opposition, portraying them as part of a kind of power elite,” said Murat Somer, a professor of political science at Koc University in Istanbul. It created a “very hard, frozen, negative image that the opposition couldn’t shake off,” he told CNN.

The home videos would have been unimaginable in the early days of his political career as it is his natural inclination to keep his private life to himself, said Mehmet Karli, a CHP member and Kilicdaroglu’s longtime adviser.

“He’s come to understand throughout his … political life that the private and the public are closely intertwined, especially when you’re leading a movement,” he told CNN.

But the gentle demeanor he describes from home could have its downsides.

Sanver said the kitchen videos had the potential to come across as too soft on some of Turkey’s more difficult foreign policy issues – including relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United States.

Erdogan has been able to leverage personal connections and has shown effective leadership in one of the world’s most intractable problems. Together with the United Nations, he managed to negotiate a deal on grain exports between Ukraine and Russia, thus preventing a global food crisis.

“That’s one of the criticisms I raised,” Sanver, who has met with Kilicdaroglu throughout his campaign, told CNN. “He has to look strong because Erdogan is also very strong.”

Submitting some addresses from his office may have helped establish a more serious personality while showing that he is still a different leader from Erdogan, she said.

In a country where ethnic and religious identity often figure in public discourse and are exploited by some politicians, Kilicdaroglu has acted quickly to deprive his opponents of ammunition.

In a video posted to Twitter from his office last month, he told voters he belonged the Alevi sect, a religious minority from eastern Turkey who have complained about persecution in the mostly Sunni Muslim country for years. The video has been viewed 36 million times.

“We will no longer talk about identities; We’ll talk about achievements,” he said. “We will no longer talk about divisions and differences; We will talk about what we have in common and our shared dreams. Will you join this campaign for this change?”