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A resilient female politician could challenge Erdogan in Turkey’s next elections

Aykan Erdemir
13th September 2017 - Quoted by Burak Akinci - Xinhua

Turkey's former nationalist Interior Minister Meral Aksener is being touted as a possible challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the next presidential election.

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"Meral Aksener's new political party has the potential to appeal Turkey's center-right voters, which continues to be the largest segment of the Turkish electorate. She, therefore, can attract voters not only from her former party MHP but also the AKP," said to Xinhua Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

According to this analyst, "it wouldn't be surprising for Aksener to perform well in the 2019 elections," pointing out that if she chooses to run against Erdogan in the presidential elections, "she would make it nearly impossible for Erdogan to win the presidency in the first round," where he would have to secure more than 50% of the votes.

Three elections will be held in 2019: legislative, municipal and presidential.

"Even if Aksener cannot qualify for the second round of presidential elections, she could lead to Erdogan's ultimate defeat," commented Erdemir.

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So can a combative female politician attract the votes of a largely patriarchal Turkish society? She doesn't wear the Islamic headscarf and is always in public wearing makeup and modern clothes.

She definitely can, according to Erdemir, who thinks that Aksener would attract new voters, both men and women, to her cause. "She has already proven her boldness and resilience by defying Erdogan's incessant threats, and used these challenges to further bolster her image," he argued.

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turkey