No one except himself believed that Kemal Kiliçdaroglu could make it this far. The perfect bureaucrat who never raises his voice has ended up standing up to the more than rude Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a country tired of shouting, tired of being scolded and tired of confrontation.
It has had to go through a pandemic, an earthquake and inflation that came close to 100%. But you also had to be there, having done your homework. Kiliçdaroglu, ignored by the media for years, although he had served as general secretary of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) since 2010, earned attention and respect at the most difficult time. In 2017, in the apotheosis of the purges in the administration, after the attempted coup the previous year. In a Gandhian twist, the social democrat Kiliçdaroglu walked the 425 kilometers that separate Ankara from Istanbul, in a multi-day march with a single motto: justice.
Most Sunni Turks will never accept their daughter marrying an Alevi. But many of these same Turks yesterday voted for Kiliçdaroglu, in what is a true reconciliation of Turkey with itself.
Kiliçdaroglu, the slow man no matter what, has already changed the political debate in Turkey, putting “law, rights and justice” at its center, instead of neo-imperial ambitions. If his words came true – against the tendency of his party to bet everything on the cult of Atatürk, which is inedible – Turkey could once again be a much kinder place.