Who Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu AKA Erdogan’s Rival AKA Turkey’s Gandhi?


Kemal Kilicdaroglu is the leader of the center-left, pro-secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Turkey. He has emerged as a prominent rival to the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Also Read – Erdogan heading for a second round in Turkey’s closely-fought elections

He is often referred to as “Turkey’s Gandhi” due to his mild manners and physical resemblance to India’s Mahatma Gandhi. 

He is a 74-year-old former civil servant, and also a candidate of the opposition parties forming a coalition against President Erdogan.

Why Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu Considered As Erdogan’s Biggest Rival?

Kemal Kilicdaroglu was born in the rebellious eastern Tunceli province, which is known for its Kurdish and Alevi majority. 

While he has gained support from these communities, he faces challenges in winning over conservative Sunni voters, who form the core of Erdogan’s support. 

If the election goes into the favor of Kilicdaroglu, he would be the first Alevi to lead Turkey.

As the leader of the CHP, Kilicdaroglu aims to reverse the crackdowns on free speech and address democratic setbacks that have occurred under Erdogan’s rule. 

He also aims to revive Turkey’s economy, which has been highly affected by rising inflation and currency devaluation. 

Kilicdaroglu is also known for his modesty and simple lifestyle. In an interview, he had mentioned that his family didn’t have a fridge, washing machine, or dishwasher.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s “march for justice” in 2017 was a defining moment in his political career. 

The march was organized to protest the imprisonment of a member of parliament from his party and demonstrated his leadership qualities and willingness to confront the current Erdogan’s government. 

Prior to his political career, Kilicdaroglu studied finance and held leadership positions, including heading Turkey’s social security system. He also ran for the position of Istanbul mayor in 2009.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu is considered Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s biggest rival because he represents the biggest opposition party and has been able to gather support from various opposition groups as well as political parties. 

His moderate and calm behavior, along with his commitment to democracy and justice, has earned him the nickname “Turkey’s Gandhi.” 

This comparison emphasizes his peaceful approach to politics and his efforts to bring about change through nonviolent means, similar to Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy. 

However, it’s important to note that Kilicdaroglu’s political ideology and approach may differ from Gandhi’s in some aspects, but the comparison highlights his influential role in challenging Erdogan’s dominance.

Latest Update of Turkey’s Presidential Election

In the first round of Turkey’s presidential election, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured 49.51% of the vote, while his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu received 44.88%. 

Since neither candidate obtained more than 50% of the votes, a second-round runoff is scheduled for May 28. Erdogan’s performance exceeded expectations, demonstrating his continued electoral hold over Turkey’s conservative base. 

Also Read – Turkey election: Erdogan accepts runoff in presidential election

Kilicdaroglu, leading an opposition alliance, had promised to restore democratic norms and repair the country’s economy if elected. 

The result of the election will have significant implications for Turkey’s economy and foreign policy. Concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the election persist, with criticism directed at the lack of transparency and level playing field for the opposition.



Roshan Amiri is an advocate for the truth. He believes that it's important to speak out and fight for what's right, no matter what the cost. Amiri has dedicated his life to fighting for social justice and creating a better future for all.

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