Although he lacks the charm of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, Kemal Kilicdaroglu is bullish about his prospects of defeating Erdogan in Sunday’s election, pledging a new beginning after two decades of his rival’s turbulent rule.
Long overshadowed by Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party (AKP), opposition leader Kilicdaroglu has thrived on the campaign trail, with polls showing him with a modest lead.
“I am asking everyone to stay calm and to remember that we are bringing spring to this country,” he told Reuters in an interview at his office in Ankara two days ahead of what many see as modern Turkey’s most consequential vote.
“Never have a pessimistic mood,” he said in a message to supporters. “Remember that we will replace an authoritarian rule with the votes we cast,” he added.
He has pledged to set Turkey, Europe’s second-largest country, on a new path and roll back much of the legacy of the man who has taken tight control of most of its institutions.
Kilicdaroglu’s top priority however is a return to orthodox economic policies and the parliamentary system of governance, and independence for a judiciary critics say Erdogan has used to crack down on dissent.
“We need to appoint someone who is trusted by financial circles as the head of the central bank. This is the first thing foreign investors will see. Plus, we will ensure the independence of the central bank,” he said in the interview.
“We are forming Champions League teams in every department. From politics to economics, from education to culture. We will rule the country with the most competent teams,” he said.