Turkey’s earthquake victims weigh in on loyalty to Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has so far been able to count on strong voter support from the southeastern regions of the country, however, the earthquake and insufficient preparedness of the government have distorted these prospects, writes Reuters.
It can already be seen that Erdogan’s AKP understands that they can’t count on votes of the past voters. Officials are increasingly talking about speeding up the country’s reconstruction work even before the elections.
A truck driver encountered in a village in Kahramanmaras province told Reuters:

«This whole village has voted for AKP even though no one knows why. The earthquake definitely changes our opinion because the first responders and tents were very late to arrive.»

The opposition has been very indecisive before nominating its candidate for the presidency, which in turn upset the voters. However, experts say those affected by earthquakes can change their minds quickly.
Reuters interviewed nearly 30 local residents in the worst-hit Turkish provinces, and it is clear that political preferences are changing even among those who were staunch supporters of Erdogan.
The deadliest natural disaster in Turkey’s modern history destroyed cities and killed tens of thousands of residents in early February, with the worst-hit regions also home to Erdogan and the AKP’s staunchest supporters. Although

Reuters spoke to a tiny fraction of the 14 million people affected by the earthquakes in southeastern Turkey, the conversations shed light on how those people could influence the election.

Many are resentful of years of frivolous construction policies promoted by the AKP. Others have been offended by the statements made by political leaders, including Erdogan, after the earthquake, and some are also ironic about the government’s plan to restore everything within a year.
AKP has been in power in Turkey since 2002 without serious challenges in the elections. People connected to the party said that AKP is aware of the mood of the voters, but hopes that the quickly completed reconstruction works and the indecision of the opposition will still bring victory in this election as well.
The organizers of the polls have avoided polling those living in the disaster-affected zone, while the general polls of the country show that the AKP maintains its leading position.
On Monday, the 6th of March, the centrist opposition nominated Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party, as its candidate. Many told Reuters that the opposition parties had nominated a candidate too late and were willing to support only candidates with a nationalist stance, such as Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas.
Officials briefly considered the possibility of postponing the elections, but then changed their minds and returned to the originally planned date – the 14th of May. This is difficult for many to understand. An insurance agency worker from Besni said: «It is not wise to hold elections in May. People are hurting, and we are still hurting.» He told that after the earthquake, cries for help from his relatives could be heard under the ruins for two days before they stopped.
Read also: Damage caused by earthquake reaches 34 billion dollars in Turkey