As Turks prepare to head to the polls Sunday in a snap election called by incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Policy has published what is essentially a summary blueprint outlining the ways Erdogan could steal the election, noting "Sunday's vote is one he can't afford to lose."
As we previously commented, though the man who has dominated the nation's politics for almost two decades is not expected to lose, a consensus is emerging that the vote should be regarded as a referendum on his person and leadership.
And now, a visible surge in popularity for the rival secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate has pundits declaring the opposition actually has a chance.
AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican People's Party (CHP) challenger Muharrem Ince. Image via Hurriyet
Erdogan has often boasted that he has never lost an election and, as recent polls indicate, he is unlikely to lose this time either (but likely by a thin margin). Since 2002, he and his AKP (Justice and Development Party) have won five parliamentary elections, three local elections, three referendums and one presidential election.
The president moved elections that weren't supposed to be held until 2019 forward by more than a year in hopes of smashing an unprepared opposition, but there's yet a possibility this could backfire.
Ironically, the move could blow up in Erdogan's face as he called for the early elections at a moment when the economy appeared strong, but which in the interim began tanking — giving all but die-hard AKP supporters reason for serious pause as the opposition's message becomes louder.
His legacy has already been established as ushering in Turkey’s transformation from a parliamentary to a presidential system, giving a disproportionate share of power to the president, and should he win he'll assume even greater executive powers after last year's referendum which narrowly approved major constitutional changes related to the presidency.
But Erdogan's main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, is this week drawing immense crowds according to a variety of reports, and gaining support from a cross-section of Turks increasingly fed up with Erdogan's power-grabbing.
opposition candidate Muharrem Ince at Ankara rally pic.twitter.com/LDk4pNxgv6
Ince, a former high school physics teacher widely seen has having much more charisma, has mirrored Erdogan's firebrand and combative rhetoric while taking direct aim at the Islamic conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader's enabling corruption and nepotism, and his further overseeing an economy in tailspin with the lira having lost nearly 20% of its value since the year began, inflation at 12%, and interest rates at 18%.
Muharrem Ince's simple yet pointed appeal goes something like this: "Erdogan is tired, he has no joy and he is arrogant," he told hundreds of thousands of supporters at an Izmir rally on Wednesday. CNN noted the rally presented "what looked like...