Turkey’s opposition picked Kemal Kilicdaroglu Monday as its common candidate to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s presidential elections in May.
The elections are Erdogan’s toughest during his 20-year rule and come amid economic turmoil and criticism of the government’s response to a devastating earthquake last month.
“Our biggest goal is to carry Turkey toward prosperous, peaceful and joyful days,” Kilicdaroglu said after he was nominated, as thousands of supporters cheered.
Known as “Gandhi Kemal” or “Turkey’s Gandhi” for his resemblance to Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi, the quietly spoken 74-year-old offers a radically different vision in both substance and style to the fiery, charismatic Erdogan, the BBC notes.
However, some of Kilicdaroglu’s allies fear he lacks popular appeal.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) March 6, 2023
Kilicdaroglu vows to return Turkey to a parliamentary system
He promised his supporters that he would govern Turkey through consensus and consultation.
“Our table is the table of peace,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. “Our only goal is to take the country to days of prosperity, peace and joy.”
He also said he would return the country to a parliamentary system. Erdogan oversaw a transition to a presidential system, gaining sweeping powers.
On 9 July 2018, as Erdogan was inaugurated for a second term, Turkey exchanged its 95-year-old parliamentary system for one in which virtually all political power is concentrated in the office of the presidency.
Over the days that followed, Erdogan issued a series of presidential decrees, abolishing or amending a host of laws, regulations and institutions, radically reshaping the apparatus of state.