TURKEY

Campaign period ends up with Erdoğan outperforming rivals

As political campaigning for the local elections on Sunday nears to an end, President Erdoğan stands out as the most prominent figure in terms of campaign performance.

On Sunday, the long period of political campaigning comes to an end as Turkey goes to the polls for the local elections.

Campaigning livened the atmosphere in the country for a few months, as the period witnessed political figures and municipal candidates traveling back and forth all around Anatolia, holding rallies, using social media, going on TV programs and ultimately, canvassing door to door to attract voters.

However, when it comes to campaign performance, one can't help but notice a major discrepancy between politicians as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan outdid his opponents by a wide margin. On Friday, Erdoğan held his 82nd rally in Istanbul, more than any other politician. Visiting 57 provinces and 30 districts so far, as he said during his Friday rally, Erdoğan traveled all around the country – from the western province of İzmir to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

Erdoğan's journey started on Feb. 8, in the central province of Sivas. On some days Erdoğan visited four provinces in a row while the number of districts visited in one day reached eight sometimes, just like in Istanbul on Friday. While alone during most of his rallies, Erdoğan also held joint rallies with his partner in the People's Alliance, Devlet Bahçeli the chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in the biggest provinces of the country: İzmir, Ankara and Istanbul.

Apart from these rallies, Erdoğan also held public meetings where he gathered certain occupational groups or people of certain provinces. In total, the president traveled more than 85,000 kilometers around the country.

However, Erdoğan's election campaign was not limited to just rallies or public gatherings. In this period, Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) made great use of social media. The campaign advertisements of the party aired on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and were watched 147.6 million times. In these campaign adverts the youth was the main group targeted.

BAHÇELI HELD 14 RALLIES
MHP Chairman Bahçeli, on the other hand, began his rallies from the northwestern Bileck province's Söğüt district on March 10, which is the founding capital of the Ottoman Empire, as a tribute to the country's ancestors and its political legacy. So far, he has held 14 rallies and two public meetings.

Bahçeli also appeared on television by participating in question and answer programs as part of his election campaign. He also used Twitter extensively to comment on the current political agenda.

The People's Alliance between the MHP and the AK Party was formed ahead of the June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections. The alliance received a majority in Parliament, while their presidential candidate, Erdoğan, also won the election by 52.6 percent of the vote.

Since both parties considered the results of the June 24 elections as successful, they sought to continue their alliance in the local elections.

KILIÇDAROĞLU HELD 43 RALLIES
While Erdoğan put all his effort into the elections, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), fell behind from the very beginning of the campaigning period, since he started his campaign and rallies 19 days after Erdoğan, on Feb.27.

His first rally was in the southeastern Batman province, Kılıçdaroğlu visited 26 provinces so far, less than half of how many Erdoğan visited, including western Aydın province, which he visited Friday. He held a total of 43 rallies. In all of these provinces, Kılıçdaroğlu also met with the representatives of the business world while visiting some provinces more than once, just like Erdoğan. Kılıçdaroğlu visited Istanbul seven times, Ankara four times, Bursa three times and Hatay and Antalya twice. He also put special emphasis on districts and visited 18 of them, meeting, in particular, with people in the districts of Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. In the end, he traveled 19,519 kilometers around the country.

AKŞENER HELD 55 RALLIES
Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu held six joint rallies with the leader of the far-right Good Party (İP), Meral Akşener, in the provinces of Aydın, Burdur, Balıkesir, Kocaeli and Antalya.

The two parties had previously decided to join forces, under the umbrella of the Nation Alliance, in many provinces and districts for the upcoming local elections against the People's Alliance.

Akşener herself also held rallies alone, visiting 20 provinces and 55 districts. She held a total of 50 rallies. She also paid personal visits to some citizens and held meetings with tradesmen. Up until now, she has traveled 16,192 kilometers across the country.

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