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Turkey elections: Kilicdaroglu likes tweet calling for expulsion of refugees

Opposition presidential candidate likes a tweet by controversial Bolu mayor Tanju Ozcan who has repeatedly called for the expulsion of refugees
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the 74-year-old leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) delivers a press conference in Ankara on 15 May 2023 (AFP)

Turkish presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has liked a tweet by a controversial mayor who called for the expulsion of refugees from the country, suggesting the second round of voting on 28 May will be decided by attitudes towards refugees.

"May 28 will be the choice of those who say they will not send back asylum seekers and those who say they will," tweeted Tanju Ozcan, a Republican People's Party (CHP) mayor for the city of Bolu.

On Sunday, Kilicdaroglu received 44.96 percent of the votes in the first round of the vote while incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured 49.4 percent, 0.6 percent short of an outright victory.

A third candidate, nationalist Sinan Ogan, obtained 5.17 percent and both Kilicdaroglu and Erdogan are expected to seek his endorsement in negotiations this week.

Ogan told Reuters that he would support Kilicdaroglu "in the runoff if he agrees to offer no concessions to a pro-Kurdish party."

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Yet distancing himself from the Kurdish vote would be disastrous for Kilicdaroglu, who won heavily in Kurdish-dominated cities. 

Sinan Ogan: The anti-refugee ultra-nationalist shaking up Turkey's election
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Both Kilicdaroglu and the AKP's Binali Yildirim were reported to have held a phone call with Ogan last night.

The elections are taking place amid an alarming rise of xenophobia and discrimination against Syrian refugees, with both candidates promising mass deportations, and Kilicdaroglu, in particular, focusing on the issue.

Kilicdaroglu, who is backed by the six-party 'Nation Alliance', has repeatedly vowed to deport all the Syrian refugees in the country.

"We have unemployed young people but there are 3.6 million Syrians. We will send all Syrians back to their countries within two years at the latest," he said at an election rally on 1 May.

In recent years Turks have seen their purchasing power dwindle, with many struggling to meet the basic costs of living as the national currency collapses in value amid unprecedented inflation.

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