Tempest in a teashop: Turks bitterly divided in Erdogan stronghold ahead of presidential vote

·1-min read
© Assiya Hamza, FRANCE 24

In the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, a stronghold of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), some voters are ardent supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Others, however, can be just as ferocious in their opposition. With the May 14 first round of the presidential election fast approaching, politics can be just as hot as the steaming chai in a Gaziantep tea shop.

The Gaziantep castle has survived centuries of invasions, but some of the Roman-era bastions of the formidable edifice in southeastern Turkey did not withstand the destructive force of the February 6 earthquakes. The main stone structure, however, is still there. Perched on a hill, the castle still watches over the old city.

In this stronghold of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 63.9 percent of the vote in the 2018 election, well above his 52.6 percent nationwide score.

"I have supported Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he came to power. And I will continue to do so," says Hasan Erturk, 60, owner of a tea shop in the square below the fortress. Insha’allah (God willing), we will see him win again on May 14.”

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