Written by Hassan Hamed Al-Baldawi
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to extend his rule for a third decade as he enters the run-off in the presidential elections, next Sunday, in light of the momentum that seems to be going in his favor after the first round ended with his lead over his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu .
Erdogan's chances of winning the parliamentary majority that the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party and its allies won on May 14 are enhanced. Erdogan also got another boost last Monday thanks to the announcement of nationalist politician Sinan Ogan, who finished third in the first round of the presidential elections, to support the Turkish president in the run-off.
And the elections will not only determine who will lead the country, but also the way it is governed, and where its economy and foreign policies are heading.
As for Kılıçdaroğlu, he received new support from a far-right leader, in addition to a coalition of six opposition parties, including his Republican People's Party.
Erdogan, the longest-serving leader in modern Turkey, has championed religious considerations and low interest rates while asserting Turkish influence in the region and scaling back the NATO member's ties with the West.
The elections are taking place three months after devastating earthquakes hit southeastern Turkey, which claimed more than 50,000 lives.
What awaits Türkiye after the elections?
Erdogan is the country's most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern Turkish Republic a century ago. Erdogan and his party (Justice and Development) distanced the country from Ataturk's secular approach.
Erdogan has also concentrated powers in an executive presidency based in a thousand-room palace on the outskirts of Ankara, which draws up policies with regard to economic, security, domestic and international affairs.
His critics say his government has silenced dissent, undermined rights and subjugated the justice system - a charge denied by officials who say it has protected citizens from security threats including an attempted coup in 2016.
Economists say Erdogan's calls for lower interest rates sent inflation to a 24-year high of 85 percent last year and the lira to a tenth of its value against the dollar over the past decade.
What is at stake for the rest of the world?
Under Erdogan's rule, Turkey has projected its military might in the Middle East and beyond, launching four incursions into Syria and attacking Kurdish militants inside Iraq, and sending military support to Libya and Azerbaijan.
Turkey also witnessed a series of diplomatic confrontations with powers in the region, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, along with Israel, in addition to a confrontation with Greece and Cyprus over the maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, until it changed its positions two years ago and sought rapprochement with some of its opponents.
Erdogan's purchase of Russian air defense systems led to the imposition of US sanctions on Ankara targeting the arms industry, while his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin raised skepticism from critics about Ankara's commitment to NATO, and Ankara's objections to Sweden and Finland's requests to join the alliance raised tension.
However, Turkey brokered an agreement that allowed Ukrainian wheat to be exported across the Black Sea, suggesting a role Erdogan may play in efforts to end the war in Ukraine. It is not yet clear whether there is a possible successor to him who is able to enjoy the same status that Erdogan gained on the international stage, a point he raised in his election campaign
What are the promises of the opposition?
The two main opposition parties, the secular Republican People's Party and the centre-right nationalist Good Party, allied themselves with four smaller parties on a platform that would undo many of the policies that have characterized Erdogan's rule.
These parties have vowed to restore the independence of the Central Bank and to abolish Erdogan's unconventional economic policies, and the opposition intends to dismantle his executive presidency and return to the former parliamentary system, as well as send Syrian refugees home.
The parties also aim to improve relations with Western allies including the United States, and to return Turkey to the F-35 fighter jet programme, from which it was excluded after purchasing Russian missile defenses.
Erdogan backed failed efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while hosting at least 3.6 million Syrian refugees who are increasingly unwelcome amid Turkey's economic woes
Seeking support from nationalist voters in the run-off, Kilicdaroglu has ratcheted up his anti-immigrant rhetoric in the past two weeks, vowing to send migrants home.

calendar_month28/05/2023 06:13 pm