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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses supporters after reports of health concerns

People listen to Turkish President and People's Alliance's presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an election campaign rally in Ankara, Sunday, April 30, 2023.
People listen to Turkish President and People's Alliance's presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an election campaign rally in Ankara, Sunday, April 30, 2023. Copyright Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AFP
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The Turkish President was back on the campaign trial in Ankara on Sunday after reports he had been unwell since Tuesday night.

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Turkey's incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, criticised opposition parties and his main challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in front of thousands of his supporters during a speech at Ankara's Millet Park on Sunday.

Erdoğan claimed they were supported by militant organisations like FETO (the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation) and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party).

With just under two weeks to go until the election, Erdoğan's health has raised concerns after he cancelled his campaign trips for two days in a row, including a previously scheduled trip to a high-profile ceremony at Turkey's new power plant in Mersin on Thursday.

Student Emre Ali Ferli has known no leader other than Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

That's enough to make the 18-year-old back the president's rival when he votes for the first time on 14 May.

"I am tired of getting up every day and thinking about politics," he said, referring to the tumult of Erdoğan's 20-year rule.

"When President Erdoğan is gone, young people will be able to focus on their exams and to speak freely."

Like Ferli, around 5.2 million Turks who have reached voting age since Erdoğan came to power in 2003 - eight per cent of the electorate - will have their first say on election day.

Former civil servant Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, is banking on students such as Ferli.

"It is through you that spring will come," the grandfatherly leader of Turkey's leading secular party told a youth rally in Ankara.

Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
People wave Turkish and AK ruling party flags as they listen to Turkish President and People's Alliance's presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Ali Unal/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Opinion polls suggest that Kılıçdaroğlu has reason to be optimistic.

One survey showed only 20 per cent of Turks in the 18-25 age bracket were ready to vote for Erdoğan and his Islamic-rooted party in the presidential and parliamentary polls.

While both are passed Turkey's retirement age, Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu have been trying to seduce Gen Z voters with pledges to abolish a tax on mobile phone purchases and free internet packages.

Adding to Erdoğan's problems, a third candidate, 58-year-old secular nationalist Muharrem Ince is posing as a more fresh-faced alternative.

"The Erdoğan vote is lower among young people," Konda polling institute researcher Erman Bakirci said.

"First-time voters are more modern and less religious than the average voter, and more than half are dissatisfied with the life they lead."

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