Despite being the clear loser of Sunday’s presidential elections in Turkey, Sinan Ogan, an ultranationalist until recently unknown, is emerging as the key to determining who will be the new head of state if, as the provisional vote indicates, there is a second round on May 28.
Ogan got 5% of the vote yesterdayfar behind the 49.4% of the current president, the Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the 45% of the opposition leader, the Social Democrat Kemal Kiliçdaroglu.
If the scrutiny confirms that none has achieved a majority in the first round yesterday, they will compete in a second and final round on May 28.
Whom Ogan’s nearly three million votes go to may determine whether Erdogan extends his two decades in power or whether there is a sea change in Turkish politics, something that could have repercussions for relations with the EU, NATO and in various regional conflicts.
Ogan has already put the price of his support on the table. He will recommend his supporters to vote for the candidate who will ensure the outlawing of the HDP, the leftist party that defends the rights of the Kurdish minority.
Erdogan has put that formation, which in yesterday’s parliamentary elections consolidated itself as a third force, on the brink of outlawing.
The Turkish government considers it the political arm of the PKK, the Kurdish guerrilla group considered a terrorist by the European Union.
It is more difficult for Kiliçdaroglu to distance himself from the HDP, since he needs to maintain the support it has given him in the presidential elections.
In an interview yesterday, Ogan assured that it will only support the opposition candidate “if the HDP is excluded from the political system.”
Without the HDP’s 4.7 million votes, Kiliçdaroglu will have no chance of winning in the second round.
But like so many things in Turkish politics, the equation is not that easy.
On the one hand, it is not clear that Ogan can direct the vote of all his supporters.
Among them there are voters in whom the nationalist element weighs more, closer to Erdogan, but also secularists, opposed to the president’s Islamism.
On the other hand, Ogan himself has clashed with Erdogan and his ultranationalist allies.
Ogan was expelled in 2015 from the MHP, the party on whose support Erdogan depends to win the presidential election.
In addition, two years later, he categorically opposed the constitutional reform promoted by Erdogan, which transformed Turkey into a presidential system in which the head of state assumes all executive power and many powers over the judiciary.
Ogan has been very critical of Erdogan, and has denounced that Erdogan’s AKP has included members of Hüda-Par, a Kurdish ultra-Islamist formation, on its electoral lists.
Ogan was born in 1967 and graduated in Business Administration in 1989, later receiving a PhD in International Relations from Moscow State University.
(with information from EFE)
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