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Women candidates in Turkey face growing hurdles across political spectrum

Even as patriarchal attitudes fade, efforts to recruit candidates or put them at the top of party lists have fallen short due to the old boy network.
A woman walks past a poster showing the portrait of Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the presidential candidate of the Main Opposition alliance on May 05, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. On May 14th, Turkey’s President Erdogan will face his biggest electoral test as voters head to the polls in the country’s general election. Erdogan has been in power for more than two decades, as prime minister and then as president, but his popularity has taken a hit recently due to Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis and his government’s handl

ISTANBUL — A nondescript apartment in Istanbul’s business district is the nerve center of a drive to propel more women into Turkish politics. 

But as some 61 million voters in Turkey prepare to cast their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections, the mood at the office of Ben Secerim, or I Choose, is one of disappointment. 

The NGO was established two years ago to boost female participation in politics, specifically to find suitable candidates to stand for parliament. 

Last month, Ben Secerim selected 20 parliamentary candidates who will join the lists of a number of opposition parties – the CHP, the Iyi Party, the Deva Party and the Gelecek Party. However, due to the nature of the election process — votes for parties are allocated to candidates according to their placement on ranked party lists — just four stand any real hope of entering the Turkish Grand National Assembly. 

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