Turkey’s President Called Election Early Thinking He’d Win. Meet The Rival Making Him Question That

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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Opposition candidate Muharrem Ince and his supporters are challenging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.

A crowd of Ince’s supporters at a Wednesday rally surpassed the size of any crowd that Erdogan has drawn this election period, CNN reported Friday. Although Ince is behind Erdogan in the polls, Ince might still keep the incumbent from earning 50 percent of the votes. That would mean a runoff election on July 8, reported Politico.

The election will coincide with the day that constitutional changes that enlarge the president’s executive powers come into effect.

Erdogan’s opponents, including Ince, promise to reverse the constitutional changes that were passed in a contentious 2017 referendum, according to Politico(RELATED: US Senate Blocks Sale Of F-35 Fighter Jets To Turkey)

Ince, a former physics teacher, is the nominee of secularist Republican People’s Party, while Erdogan has the backing of the Justice and Development Party, which claims secular principles but has strong Islamist ties.

Erdogan, who has been Turkey’s president since 2014 and was its prime minister from 2003 to 2014, moved the elections up from November 2019 on April 18, according to the BBC.

Ince is expected to earn up to 30 percent of votes on Sunday, and Erdogan is expected to earn 45 to 50 percent, according to Politico(RELATED: Turkish President Erdogan Predicts Holy ‘War’ Over Austrian Mosque Closures)

The Turkish economy is key in the presidential election. Erdogan was a driving force in the country’s transformation from trash-strewn, backward “Old Turkey” to a modern nation with new and better hospitals, roads and airports.

Turkey has had an economic downturn recently, and Ince said he’ll be better for the economy than the current administration, Politico reported. He even ridiculed the incumbent for turning down a debate on television.

“We’ll only talk about the economy,” Ince said at a rally on Saturday, according to Politico. “Come on television. Aren’t you a world leader? Why won’t you come?”

Turkey’s parliamentary elections will be on Sunday as well, marking the first time its presidential and parliamentary elections have coincided. A coalition of secularist, Islamist and nationalist parties will pose a threat to Erdogan’s party’s majority, Politico reported.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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