Mehram Ince is well-known outside of Turkey for his 2018 presidential election campaign against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Prior to the May 14 election, the six major opposition parties in Turkey have come together to support Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and Ince’s candidacy may splinter anti-Erdogan sentiment.
Turkey’s 2018 presidential election was notable for the fact that many Western observers had predicted Muharrem Ince’s aggressive campaign would push Erdogan into a runoff, but the cunning Turkish leader was re-elected in the first round with 52 percent of the vote while Ince received only thirty percent.
Ince was running at the time for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a secularist organization. To prevent dividing the vote, the CHP nominated Kemal Kilicdaroglu this time as its candidate to take on Erdogan, and Turkey’s five other major opposition parties set aside their differences to unite behind him as part of a national alliance. Kilidaroglu is backed by even the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the third political force in Turkish politics. Ince, a former high school physics teacher, is running for president of Turkey despite this, which has infuriated many in the opposition.
According to Soner Cagaptay, head of the Turkey Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Politics, “the opposition, united behind Kilicdaroglu, is now uncomfortable with Ince’s candidacy because it jeopardizes the possibility of a first-round victory over Erdogan.”
Kilicdaroglu faces a significant task in light of the fact that his meeting with Ince following the announcement that he will run for president under the aegis of the Homeland Party, which he created in 2021, ended in failure.
According to Didier Billion, a Turkey researcher and deputy director of the French Institute for International Strategic Affairs in Paris, “the Turkish opposition is divided just because of Ince’s candidacy.”
Analysts anticipate that the election is nearing its conclusion. Erdogan’s contempt for economic conventional wisdom is primarily to blame for Turkey’s ongoing inflation crisis. The president’s response to the February earthquake has also drawn criticism, and since he decided to end his campaign in late April after becoming ill during a live televised interview, concerns have been raised regarding his health. On the other hand, the socially conservative voters in the interior of Anatolia have long supported brilliant politician Erdogan.