Politics and Betrayal

Turkey’s Marine Le Pen Sabotages Alliance Against Erdogan Ahead of Presidential Election

Less than a day after a nationalist politician broke away from an electoral alliance in a dispute over candidacy for the May presidential election, she got a rebuke from the mayors she proposed for nomination.

Abdullah Ayasun
5 min readMar 4, 2023

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Only less than a day after IYI Party leader Meral Aksener split from the notoriously dysfunctional opposition alliance in a dispute over nominating the joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election in May, the names in her mind for nomination offered a stinging rebuke to the veteran nationalist politician. In a publicized and nasty political divorce at a press conference on Friday, Aksener, who is also known as Turkey’s Marine Le Pen, rattled off acrimonious remarks against her former political savior, secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu, for what she claimed dictating his personal will on the five other members of the “Nation Alliance.”

“They left us to choose between death and malaria,” the Iron Lady said in a tone resembling a war declaration. The death, in her veiled description, refers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while malaria unmistakable was meant for the CHP chairman whose chivalrous generosity saved the nationalist leader from sinking into political oblivion only five years ago.

The split came a few days before the opposition was poised to announce its joint candidate who will face Erdogan in the most critical election of the century. It was no secret to anyone that the CHP leader was expressing willingness to put his name on the ballot box to challenge Erdogan whose two-decade-plus grip on Turkey’s politics seriously appears in tatters after two earthquakes killed more than 50,000 people and exposed fatal incompetence on the part of authorities. The public anger is still raw, the wounds fresh, and the soul-searching over the sheer scope of destruction is still underway. In these circumstances, it is a bold and, no less risky, gamble for Erdogan to face the people’s will at the ballot box. The vote will be a referendum not just on his post-earthquake…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun