Kemal Kilicdaroglu
Kemal KilicdarogluSpokesperson

Citizens across Turkey are heading to the polls on Sunday in what may prove to be a historic election. According to pundits and polls, the opposition holds a slight lead over current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has held the position for nearly a decade, holding the office of Prime Minister beforehand. Israel National News spoke about the reason for the possible change of power, the chances of reaching true results, and the ideas of the opposition with Dr. Nimrod Goren, a Turkey expert who is spending election day in Istanbul and has felt the sentiment on the streets of Turkey from up close.

Regarding opposition head Kemal Kilicdaroglu's advantage in the polls, Dr. Goren says it is "a mixture of several processes. The economic situation is not good in Turkey, bumps in the Edogan administration's foreign relations, the fact that Erdogan is not as young and less healthy." On the other hand, he mentions the unity of all opposition figures to agree on one candidate.

Concerning the candidate, Goren says he is the head of the party that founded modern Turkey, the Republican People's Party, which was founded by Ataturk. The party is sort of a counterpart to Israel's Labor Party, its leader has been in the political arena for the past 13 years, and its positions are center-left. "He is considered a figure who can unify, one that made a positive campaign that opposes polarization and hate, with rational policies, less connected to religious ideas, offers orderly government, a return to democracy, and a better economic situation, and he managed to gather many around him."

Does the fact that so many people with varied opinions are backing Kilicdaroglu show more of an aversion to Erdogan than support for Kilicdaroglu? Dr. Goren says that Erdogan still receives widespread support in Turkey, mainly in the periphery where there is a belief in Erdogan's way. The close elections are indeed a new thing in the country, but there is no doubt that Erdogan is still strong.

Kilicdaroglu's advantage comes from his ability "to unite different factions into a joint group, and that's very different from Erdogan's dividing and polarizing rhetoric." Regarding his stance on Israel, Dr. Goren says the matter is not high on his agenda. While his party is critical of Erdogan in a secular and democratic sense, when it comes to Israel, the criticism crosses party lines. Despite this, he expects that Israel prefers Kilicdaroglu over Erdogan due to his liberal positions.

He adds that Israel succeeded to managed an improving policy with Erdogan as well, despite the highs and lows in the two nation's relations. We asked if the warming relations with Erdogan come from his need to strengthen his position ahead of elections, and once the elections pass, he will return to making harsh remarks about Israel and its leaders. Goren answers, "the process with Israel began two years ago, during the end of Netanyahu's previous government, they began feeling around." At the same time, they began similar processes with Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Egypt, without elections on the horizon.

And what about election credibility? Can we trust the results? Dr. Goren answers: "Until now, the elections were credible. The criticism was about what happened before the elections, like exposure to the public, but Turkey has a relatively high voter turnout, and the results are credible. Erdogan was clear that he would acce[t the results, and he may very well win.

As mentioned, Dr. Goren is currently in Istanbul, and he told us about the unique atmosphere, the conversations with people on the street, and the flags and signs, all this turned the event much more significant when seeing it from the street and not at home in Israel.