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    Turkish Election Countdown- The Polls Tighten, And Erdogan’s Health Wobbles

    May 7, 2023
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    Turkey Polling Update

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    We wrote a couple times in the monthly about Turkey, and more recently a separate piece giving the lay of the land in the election.

    The election is in two weeks, May 14th. Over the last few weeks, polls have clearly tightened in the race. What was once a comfortable second round lead for Kilicdaroglu has narrowed. The first round seems to be a toss up now, as two opposition candidates have entered. And Erdogan, genius politician that he is, has continued to maintain in the public eye and maintain his support.

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    The biggest variable is the entrance of two opposition candidates, Sinan Ogan and Muharrem Ince. Ince was the leader of the CHP and their candidate in 2018- he got less than 35%. Since then, he has retooled his message, become more populist, and his now running on his own. He is polling mid single digits. Since he was the CHP candidate, the assumption is that anyone who votes for him would vote against Erdogan in the second round, but the data is far more mixed:

    Sinan Ogan is running as the anti-immigration firebrand, a role familiar to anyone who has followed European politics. He doesn’t care about aligning with a major party or an alliance-his own ‘alliance’ has a grand one seat in Parliament now. He is just raising awareness on an issue. So his is a protest vote that will fizzle in the second round.

    How do the first round polls look? No clear victory for Kilicdaroglu now.

    For the second round, all pollsters still show a narrow Kilicdaroglu win, but, it is uncomfortably close, only by 3%.

    One factor still unclear how it will turning polling into actual votes is the lingering effect of the earthquake. It damaged much of the voting and residential infrastructure in a historically heavily Erdogan region, 60-70% support. If those voters are unable to turn out as in prior elections, it would help the opposition.

    The last factor is Erdogan’s health. He collapsed during a TV interview last week and was rushed to hospital. He canceled two days of appearances.

    The opposition spread rumors of a heart infection, myocarditis. The official statement said it was a stomach flu. The video has been released showing the interviewer, but not Erdogan’s face, as he called off the interview. So we don’t know the real situation. Could he have another incident in the final two weeks? Will his VP have to take over? Yet more exciting variables in this race.

    We will reiterate our base case. Once it becomes clear that Erdogan has lost, either in the first or second round, the markets will rejoice and embrace a return to centrism. But all the variables here mean it may be until the day after the second round to learn that the opposition has won a narrow victory. The margin of victory in the polls by Mr. K is so narrow that it can be monkeyed with by Erdogan. We give the opposition no more than 60% chance at this point of winning in the end.

    May 14th is shaping up to be an exciting election day with many consequences!



    Decoding Politics

    Decoding Politics is an expert with 25 years experience explaining politics around the world.
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