Erdogan fights to hold Turkey's cities in bitter election battle

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 29, 2019 - Duration: 01:51s

Erdogan fights to hold Turkey's cities in bitter election battle

Less than a year after Tayyip Erdogan celebrated election triumph with fireworks in Ankara, Turkey's all-powerful leader faces the embarrassment of losing his capital in local polls marred by bitter campaign rhetoric and economic storm clouds.

Emily Wither reports.

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Erdogan fights to hold Turkey's cities in bitter election battle

Turkey's all-powerful leader faces the embarrassment of losing his capital in local elections.

Tayyip Erdogan has ruled Turkey for 16 years with an ever-tightening grip.

In June last year a national election victory vastly expanded his presidential powers.

It alarmed Western allies who fear Turkey is drifting deeper into authoritarianism.

But the leader could be brought down to earth on Sunday (March 31) in an election that at times has gotten nasty.

Reuters Turkey Bureau chief Dominic Evans.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, DOMINIC EVANS, SAYING: "These may just be local elections but Tayyip Erodgan has been campaigning like his life depends on it spending the last two months crossing the country speaking up to eight times a day in large rallies of his supporters he's described these elections as a matter of survival for Turkey he's described his opponents, political opponents as terrorists, he's really making this in to a very polarizing, very bitter campaign." Erdogan's critics say he is increasingly relying on divisive rhetoric since a currency crisis in August ended years of economic growth.

A steep fall in the lira last Friday (March 22) reminded voters of last year's meltdown.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, DOMINIC EVANS, SAYING: "Across Turkey the dominant issue in this election is the economy Erdogan has delivered years and years of strong growth in this country but voters are looking at the high inflation, they've seen food prices soar in the first few months of this year they've seen the lira weakening again this week and the economy is pretty much in recession unemployment is also growing." For many Turks, the vote is all about whether Erdogan can still deliver a decent standard of living.

And many may start to doubt that as the path to economic recovery looks challenging.

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