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Turkey’s Kilicdaroglu pulls ahead of Erdogan in latest polls as campaign heats up

As the latest polls show a close race against the opposition, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has returned to the hectic campaign trail and confronted his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the opposition stronghold city of Izmir.
Supporters wave flags and chant slogans while waiting for the arrival of CHP Party presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu during a campaign rally on April 30, 2023 in Izmir, Turkey.

IZMIR, Turkey — The latest polls released in Turkey over the weekend give the opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu a slight edge over incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they held dueling rallies in the opposition stronghold of Izmir with only 13 days to go till elections.

The long strip of greenery on Kordon, the waterfront at the western city of Izmir, was filled with crowds twice over the weekend. First they came to see Erdogan, who returned to the campaign trail Saturday after a four-day illness. The next day Kilicdaroglu, flanked by the heavyweights of the opposition’s Nation Alliance, made his way to the same spot to call on Erdogan to retire.

The dueling rallies of the incumbent and the opposition in Turkey’s third-largest city come amid recent polls that put Kilcdaroglu slightly ahead of Erdogan. The Istanbul-based pollster TEAM, which released its April report over the weekend, places the opposition’s presidential candidate at 47.4% and Erdogan at 44.4% in the first round on May 14. According to the poll, a runoff two weeks later will likely end with Kilicdaroglu beating Erdogan by 5%. 

All pollsters maintain that the votes are gravitating toward the two leading candidates in the presidential polls, and the percentage of undecided — in both the presidential and the parliamentary contests — is decreasing. 

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