Election in Turkey: who are Sinon Ogan and Muharrem Ince, the two key men in the second round?

Erdogan or Kiliçdaroglu? The presidential election in Turkey is now only played between these two men, who have an appointment to a second round which promises to be very tight on May 28. With respectively 49.4 and 45% of the vote, the two adversaries left only crumbs to the two other candidates: Sinan Ogan and Muharrem Ince. However, they are the ones who could tip the election. But who are they and who should they support?

Otherwise Ogan, the dissident of the “Turkish nationalists”

He is the real third man in this election, the one on whom all eyes are turned. Otherwise Ogan, with almost 5.2% of the vote, i.e. nearly 3 million votes, can make Erdogan tremble if he lines up behind Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. But it is very far from being done. “What I want is clear is for the Syrians to leave. All refugees must return home. The candidate who agrees with this and who puts this policy into practice, I will vote for him,” he said in his first speech after the results.

What rather bring him closer to Recep Tayyip Erdogan than to Kemal Kilicdaroglu ? Neither. Former deputy for the MHP, Sinon Ogan had twice been expelled from the Nationalist Action Party for his differences with the leader Devlet Bahçeli, who had allied himself with the Turkish president…

Oyumuzu kullandik. Vatanımıza milletimize hayırlı olsun. Bu akşam sandıktan çıkacak sonuç milletimizin hayrına olacaktır inşallah. Lütfen sandığa gidiniz, oylarımıza sahip çıkınız. #OAnGeliyor #SinanOgan pic.twitter.com/piZyv1NMGh

— Dr. Sinan Oğan (@DrSinanOgan) May 14, 2023

This academic of Azerbaijani origin, with ultranationalist and anti-Kurdish positions, has always preferred to go it alone in Turkish political life. Seeking to be an “independent presidential candidate of Turkish nationalists”, the 55-year-old man therefore presents himself without a party but is supported by the ATA alliance, a bloc of four parties known for their nationalist positions.

If he knows – as he told Fox TV that Turkish nationalists will be “the keys to this election” – Otherwise Ogan takes advantage and plays his individual card thoroughly. He has already indicated that he would sit at the table of those who invite him with “requirements like ministries”: “We will not be free partners”.

Muharrem Ince, the loser of 2018

It’s finally a surprise to find him here. And for good reason, Muharrem Ince, the leader of the Nation Party (Memleket), had withdrew his candidacy three days before the election. But too late, credited with 2 to 4% of voting intentions in the latest opinion polls, it was still possible to vote for him this Sunday. And more than 230,000 Turks expressed their support for him, ie 0.42% of the vote. A nothing that could still be decisive on May 28th.

And this 0.4% should go directly into Kemal Kiliçdaroglu’s purse. Muharrem Ince also withdrew his candidacy urgently in favor of him, after the resignation of several of his party’s executives, worrying that his candidacy prevents the overthrow of Erdogan. “I don’t want them to have any excuses”, he justified himself, explaining that the opposition alliance “will throw all the blame” on him if they lose.

The 59-year-old was the main opponent of the Turkish president in 2018 in the previous elections. With nearly 30% of the vote, the unfortunate candidate had failed to push the man in power since 2003 to a second round. This former professor of physics and chemistry was notably known for having promised, if elected, to sell the presidential palace built under Erdogan or to transform it into a “temple of knowledge”. He could perhaps suggest this idea to Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, even if, for the moment, he has not officially given any voting instructions.

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