Presidential candidates in Turkiye election represent East-West contrast

By May 12, 2023

Turkiye (MNN) — Turkish citizens are going to the polls on Sunday, May 14 to cast their vote for president and parliament. The presidential candidates, in particular, represent very different values and trajectories for Turkiye (formerly Turkey).

Joe Willey with SAT-7 explains, “Turkiye is a republic with a parliamentary system. So there is the president or the executive branch; there’s a parliamentary branch, which would be the legislative branch; and then there is the judiciary branch. So that is a similar system and, at least ostensibly, it should be familiar to people in the West, particularly familiar to people in the UK or in the United States.”

Current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in power for more than two decades and is seeking re-election. Erdogan champions Turkiye’s Islamic values and has steered the country away from Western influence.

The main challenger for president, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is a secular candidate calling for more freedom and democracy, and has promised to strengthen Turkiye’s ties with the West.

Sultanahmet, Turkiye (Photo courtesy of Fatih Yurur/Unsplash)

It’s a stark contrast, and the outcome of this election will have significant ripple effects down the years for this nation at a cultural crossroads.

Willey says, “It is, as I see it, a blending of cultures. It’s a land bridge with Istanbul and the Dardanelles on the West of the country. You have what is a very different Eastern influence on the East of the country, and the recent earthquakes that struck Turkiye and Syria were in the Southeastern part of the country.”

SAT-7 TURK broadcasts Christian programming via satellite television into Turkiye. In this Muslim-dominant nation, Christians are vastly outnumbered only making up around 0.2% of the population.

“SAT-7 Turk is truly ministering to what we at SAT-7 have called isolated believers. Isolated believers are those who are deeply committed to Christ, they’re deeply committed to their Christian faith, but they are in nations that are not considered Christian nations…. So SAT-7 is really reaching and filling a great need to encourage and disciple believers in Turkiye that otherwise would not have the support.”

These isolated believers are also serving as the hands and feet of Christ, especially in the wake of a devastating earthquake in February that killed over 50,000 people in Turkiye and Syria.

Churches in Turkiye went to quake-hit areas with emergency food and supplies, and even helped survivors dig through the rubble for loved ones.

The hope these Christians can offer through the Gospel is the greatest hope Turks can embrace — no matter the outcome of the presidential elections!

SAT-7 TURK (Photo courtesy of SAT-7)

Willey asks, “Pray that with the upcoming elections, as any nation that is having elections, we would pray that there would be a smooth transition, that those that are voting would be safe and free to cast their ballot. We are also praying for the nation, that there would be an acceptance of Christianity and Christians in Turkiye.

“Also, as in any country, there are disputes between different factions. We’re praying that those disputes would be handled peacefully, and we’re also praying that the rights of Christians, the rights of other religious minorities would be honored by the government.”

Learn more about SAT-7’s ministry.









Header photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, courtesy of Pixabay.

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