The lack of equal opportunities to be able to campaign in the media has marked the final stretch of the second round of presidential elections in Turkey. The polls point to a victory for the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for more than twenty years. The president came close to renewing his position with 49.5% of the votes in the first round, four and a half points above his opponent, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu.
Erdogan has more economic resources to display his propaganda in the streets and a clear advantage to communicate his electoral proposal in the media. The majority of television, radio and newspapers in the country are in the hands of companies close to the government. These media have broadcast all of Erdogan's rallies, statements and even his attacks on his opponent at the polls, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, without giving the opposition space to replicate his words. The most significant case is that of public television TRT, which has broadcast 48 hours of Erdogan's campaign, compared to 32 minutes for Kiliçdaroglu.
Days after the first elections, Erdogan admitted in a televised interview that he had shown a manipulated video during his campaign, in which he linked Kiliçdaroglu to the Kurdish guerrilla PKK, considered a terrorist organization in Turkey. That video appeared on several televisions and was also broadcast on the giant screens displayed during the rallies of the Turkish president.
This inequality of opportunities between the candidates has forced Kiliçdaroglu to try to find new spaces where he can attract votes. The opposition candidate sat down for seven hours with a famous youtuber to answer questions from the public. The video has exceeded twenty million views. The content creator, who supports Kiliçdaroglu, deployed giant screens in various cities across the country to display the candidate's message.
Images on social networks showed hundreds of passers-by following the political debate standing for hours. Kiliçdaroglu also sent SMS messages to the population to promise economic improvements if he wins, given the inflationary crisis that has plagued the country for months, with prices rising 100% in some cities. "The May 28 elections are a referendum to get rid of large debts or have the country trapped in debt," the candidate's message said.
A few hours later, the authority responsible for the country's telecommunications (BTK) warned the teleoperators that it is "prohibited to make propaganda by sending videos, audio or written messages to citizens' email or mobile addresses." Kiliçdaroglu reacted in a video posted on his social networks, in which he criticized that the BTK has not prohibited the electoral messages of the government that it has sent constantly during the campaign, including messages from ministers and from Erdogan's party, the Islamist AKP . He asked the population to share his message with his acquaintances, in an attempt to reach the maximum number of voters. He is yet to see the effect at the polls of this new opposition electoral strategy.
It is the first time that Turkey has held a presidential runoff after none of the candidates reached the 50% of the votes needed to win the
presidency on the first ballot. Erdogan lost a first round for the first time but secured a parliamentary majority thanks to a coalition of far-right and Islamist parties. The president seeks to renew his position by promoting the development of the country's infrastructure and accusing the opposition of terrorist ties. Meanwhile, Kiliçdaroglu wants to attract the vote with improvements in the economic situation and with the promise of the return of the Syrian refugees that Turkey is hosting.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project