March 30, 2023

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Who is Kemal Kilidaroglu, the centrist, who is the brainiac against the “Erdogan machine”?

At 74, the former senior official heads a fragile coalition but is determined to put an end to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his establishment.

With his full mustache and his frail figure, he is a quiet force on Turkey’s political landscape. A great connoisseur of management, he carries the image of a reserved technician. Nevertheless, on March 6, Kemal Glisadaro was there with great fanfareGlueThe President of the Republican Party (CHP) has been nominated as the presidential candidate on behalf of the country’s main opposition party, the “Table of Six”.

“The Nation’s Gates Covenant [nom officiel de la coalition] Open to anyone who shares our dream”, he told a small crowd that evening in Ankara. A trademark of the 74-year-old politician, who has navigated the sometimes conflicting currents of his party since 2002, is a speech of unity. He now heads a coalition that brings together conservatives and liberals, Islamists and secularists, nationalists and pro-Europeans.

As campaigning officially kicks off on Saturday, March 18, the latest national opinion polls have compiled that Kemal Klisadaroglu could win at the whistle of the Turkish Election Commission (YSK). Euro news (in English). Ahead of the first round of elections on May 14, the opposition’s high hopes will try to rally at any cost. Above all it is to convince those disillusioned with President Erdogan and his Islamic-conservative party, the AKP. A difficult task, but not impossible for the center-left candidate, who describes himself above all as a pragmatist.

A career in the Ministry of Finance

Without wavering, Kemal clichédaroGlue At several points the line of the CHP was realigned. In two decades, the party took over from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk “Father of Modern and Republican Turkey” It has adopted less clear positions, which he is credited with being close to, especially conservative Muslims but also the Kurdish minority.

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A native of a village in eastern Turkey, a member of a large family of ordinary appearance, KlişataroGlue Studied economics and later joined the finance ministry, where he ended his career as the country’s social security chief in the 1990s. In 2002, then retired, he returned to the CHP and was elected vice president for the first time in the Istanbul constituency. A repeat election victory in 2007 earned him the post of vice president of his party.

Turkish CHP leader Kemal Kilidaroglu (left) with then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, on September 27, 2010.  (ADEM ALTAN/AFP)

“He is a true bureaucrat, long committed to what has become the main opposition party.”Bairam Palsi, a researcher at the International Research Center in Paris, describes “He has always challenged the governance of the government and its excesses, while building consensus behind him.” In 2008, Kemal Kilicadaroglu joined the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leading opposition, denouncing its corrupt practices. Its leader drew the ire of then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Kilizadaroglu is often criticized for a certain lack of charisma, but he is not frivolous.”

Byram Palsey, researcher at Sciences Po Paris

At franceinfo

Since 2009, his popularity has increased after he ran for municipal elections in Istanbul. Although he lost against the AKP, he assumed leadership of the People’s Republican Party the following year. In 2013, the CHP supported the most active anti-Gezi movement in the country’s major cities. But it was only in June 2017 that Kemal GlisadaroGlue He signed off on one of his biggest achievements by organizing a more than 400km walk between Ankara and Istanbul to demand the release of a CHP deputy who was jailed for leaking information on the Turkish secret services. “He united the currents of his party and scored a lot of points, which is not an easy task”Byram Balsey points out.

A “balancer” that wants to brew wider

Because before rising to the head of a multi-faceted coalition, Kemal GlisadaroGlue Different components of CHP need to be acknowledged. “This is a party that we present as social democrats, and this is the line of Glisadaro.GlueBut other strong trends are emerging.”, notes Nicolas Manzo, lecturer in political science at the University of Bordeaux and research associate at the French Institute for Anatolian Studies. Historically secular and Western oriented, the CHP “In recent years there have been nationalist, even sovereign tensions”.

Faced with this, Kemal KlichtaroGlue Expressed pro-European positions and made connections with political parties within the EU. Anyone who has learned Moliere in his youth has already met the executives of the French Socialist Party many times, for example, and The Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament congratulated He was appointed head of the CHP in 2010.

An adherent of an outstretched arm policy, the centre-left leader surprised his own supporters in October 2022 by proposing legislation guaranteeing the right to wear the veil within the country’s institutions. “She also worked to integrate veiled women into the party. Remembers Nicolas Manzo. This is an obvious sign of a conservative electorate, perhaps more rural, with strong religious sentiments: Erdogan’s electorate in short.

Merel Aksener, head of the Pan Party of the Turkish Nationalist Party, during a meeting with CHP leader Kemal Kilidaroglu on January 26, 2023 in Ankara (Turkey).  (ADEM ALTAN/AFP)

In the race for the state’s highest office, Kemal KlichtaroGlue Monitor reconciliations. “He is a tightrope walker who will look for support everywhere without being obvious”, Nicolas Manceau summarizes. Thus, regarding the Kurds, an oppressed minority in Turkey “But it accounts for more than 10% of the electorate,” The expert recalled that the opposition candidate was walking on eggshells. “He is attempting a reconciliation while being careful not to offend the nationalists of the Good Party (IYI), who are hostile to the Kurdish movement, and the nationalists who are part of his coalition.”Nicolas Manceau explains.

Merel Aksener, leader of the Good Party, left the “table of six” during the primaries to appoint the candidate of the coalition of the nation. The support of other CHP figures such as Istanbul’s most popular mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who finally returned to the coalition on March 6, at the cost of negotiations on potential vice-presidents. “Holding Turkey’s Overwhelming Nationalist Voters Is Crucial to Klişateroğlu”Nicolas Manceau insists.

If he is elected, he is ready to freeze the office of the President

For many observers, the coalition led by Kemal GlisadaroGlue It should logically break after the presidential and legislative elections organized simultaneously. “Even if the opposition wins, it is normal for this team to split the next day, that is expected.Byram Balsi declares. Because the coalition’s plan is to end the presidency established by Erdogan. In 2017, the latter actually succeeded in changing the country’s constitution, in this case transferring executive power from the hands of the prime minister to the hands of the president.

On March 6, Kemal KlichtaroGlue Thus, it released its “Road Map for Transition to a Strengthened Parliamentary System”. on the HPC website (In Turkish) and decided by its coalition. “This is the main objective of the coalition members, and they can accept it, Byram Palsey continues. But beyond that, the real work begins. Will they succeed in building a parliamentary majority to form a government?

“To put an end to authoritarian abuses, to restore to the judiciary its independence, to the central bank, to stop being centered on a leader.”

Nicolas Manceau is a lecturer in political science at the University of Bordeaux

At franceinfo

If successful, ClicheroGlue Inflation will hit 85% in October, peaking in recent months in the bloodless country’s head. “Much needs to be done to repair Turkey’s image and diplomatic relations”, adds Nicolas Manceau. Not forgetting the reconstruction of the eleven provinces destroyed by the earthquakes last February, which killed more than 48,000 people in Turkey, the official agency said. Anatoly (in Turkish). “The ruling party is armed in this area. Byram Balsey notes. Builders, entrepreneurs, capital in AKP… This is Erdogan’s big machine.”

A “machine” vs. Kemal GlisadaroGlueLess charismatic than the thunderous Turkish president, he prefers to present himself as a peaceful alternative. “If Turkish voters want to vote for him, it’s not necessarily because of his personal qualities. Nicolas Manceau warns, But above all Erdogan must be removed.”