What voters will say when Turkey votes in the runoff

By Huseyin Hayatsever and Burcu Karakas

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Here are some views from Turkish citizens as the country voted on Sunday in a runoff election that could extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s rule into a third decade or see a handover of power to his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

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

“I voted for our country to keep improving and getting better in every way. There are economic difficulties, but they are solvable problems. Turkey can overcome anything as long as we stay strong.”

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Gulcan Demiroz, 32, said she hopes the vote will bring change and that otherwise her friends will go abroad, which she and her boyfriend have been considering in order to have 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, so that they can see a better future,” said 66-year-old Kemal Ustunel.

“Inflation is skyrocketing and I can’t think of anyone in the current government who could stop the situation. (Kilicdaroglu) prepared his teams of wise people. If God wills, he will bring the land out of this pit.”

“I think it won’t be easy for Kilicdaroglu. He’s an honest person, but not all of his decisions were right,” said 23-year-old Burak, who voted for him after backing third-place candidate Sinan Ogan in the first round on May 14. “I hope he wins and that this country can breathe a sigh of relief after such a long time. Otherwise, I fear that difficult times are ahead of us.”

In the largest city of Türkiye, Istanbul:

“Turkey has become an undemocratic country. I want to see a stronger Türkiye, close to the European Union. I want to live in a country that respects the rule of law and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR),” said Sukru, digital markets expert Ucar, 35.

“Last time I was more hopeful, but I believe something will change. If Erdogan wins, I will think about 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 healthcare system forever. He built roads,” said construction worker Omer Kosekol, 58.

“We love him (Erdogan) very much. 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 ballot.

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

In Diyarbakir, the largest city in the predominantly Kurdish southeast:

“In the first ballot I voted for Kilicdaroglu as a presidential candidate. But this time (Erdogan’s) AK party has the majority in parliament. If Kilicdaroglu is elected, it will be difficult for him to function,” said Mahmut Cin, 29.

“I voted for Erdogan this time because he provides stability so that there are no problems between the parliament and the president.”

“Enough is enough. Change is essential to overcome Turkey’s economic crisis and problems, which is why I voted for Kilicdaroglu again. We are hopeful and determined,” said 34-year-old housewife Canan Tince.

“It is important for Turkey’s future that the president and the parliament, in which he has the majority, work together under one roof. That’s why I voted for Erdogan again for stability,” said 54-year-old pensioner Faruk Gecgel.

(Reporting by Bülent Usta, Deniz Uyar, Mehmet Emin Caliskan, Can Sezer, Burcu Karakas in Istanbul, Huseyin Hayatsever and Ece Toksabay in Ankara; Compiled by Daren Butler; Editing by Jane Merriman)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft

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