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Turkey Elections: A Kilicdaroglu win could reset strained US relations

The man hoping to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to restore US-Turkey relations that soured over a host of issues, including Ankara's rights record.
Turkey election

WASHINGTON — Publicly, the Biden administration is not picking sides in the Turkish election pitting longtime president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, against Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of a diverse six-party opposition alliance. 

But behind closed doors, it’s safe to assume that many in Washington are hoping Sunday’s pivotal presidential and parliamentary elections bring an end to Erdogan’s more than two-decade dominance of Turkish politics. 

Turkey’s longest-serving leader is facing his toughest election challenge since the ruling Justice and Development Party swept to power in 2002. Polling suggests that Republican People's Party leader Kilicdaroglu has an actual shot at ousting Erdogan, whose campaign is squeezed by an economic crisis and public frustration over the government’s response to the February earthquakes.

An opposition victory would matter not just for Turkey, but for its relationship with the United States. Kilicdaroglu, a 74-year-old former civil servant, has pledged to restore Ankara’s tarnished democratic credentials and re-establish “healthy” ties with Washington after many years of strain. 

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