The Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals confirmed this Thursday a sentence of four years and 11 months in prison and disqualification for Canan Kaftancioglu. She the politician she is chairwoman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Istanbul province, whose mayor she has helped get into office with her charismatic rhetoric and designing an effective campaign. The CHP leader has summoned the militants in front of his Istanbul headquarters to protest a “political decision”.

“The question goes beyond what punishment there is for Canan Kaftancioglu, how far the Law has come in this country and how injustice affects each of us,” the condemned woman has expressed in a video recorded shortly after knowing the news. “Until we remove the evil from the power of this country, we will continue to work every day to ensure that the Law prevails not only over Canan Kaftancioglu, but over its 84 million inhabitants. Never lose hope,” she has sentenced.

Since 2019, up to five different sentences have accumulated in Kaftancioglu’s mailbox. The so-called Yargitay has estimated the appeals of only two of them. The remaining sentences remained firm: one and a half years in prison for “insulting an active public official”, one year and eight months for “openly humiliating the State of the Republic of Turkey” and two years and four months, later reduced to one year and nine months, for “insulting the President” Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The top leader has not commented on the latest verdict, which many critics see as the starting signal for the electoral campaign of the legislative and presidential elections scheduled for next year. Erdogan has traditionally taken the early summons from him. Under these circumstances, the architect of Ekrem Imamoglu’s 2019 success in snatching the mayorship of Turkey’s most populous city from the ruling AKP could be out of the question to try to repeat the feat.

Unlike other figures of the CHP, such as the also then victorious mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, Imamoglu himself or the president of the party, Kemal Kili├ždaroglu, Kaftancioglu, does not appear in the pools to challenge Erdogan for the Presidency. But thanks to her image of an empowered, incisive and outspoken woman, she has managed to win over numerous followers, as she has also done, with a different style, Meral Aksener, leader of the Good Party and coalition partner of the CHP.

One of the latest surveys on voting intentions, by the company Optimar, indicates a ten percentage point difference between Erdogan’s AKP and the CHP, which is on the rise. The third force is Aksener’s Good Party (IYI Parti). Some analysts do not rule out that, in an even scenario, the pro-Kurdish HDP – fourth in voting intentions – tacitly promoted the vote for the joint opposition candidate for the presidency, which could pose a tough political challenge to the aspirations of the current leader.

Although the ruling AKP-MHP coalition has shown signs of wear and tear in recent years, the determining factor in Erdogan’s falling popularity is the economic crisis. The price of the Turkish lira against the euro has been in free fall for five years. The recipes applied to avoid it, victims of the heterodox vision of the economy that the maximum president has, have barely managed to solve the problem, which, to make matters worse, has worsened with the current inflationary crisis.

With this scenario, the main opposition party denounces that a hunt has begun against its members to undermine their progress in the polls. A situation that to date had only been faced by numerous HDP leaders imprisoned on “terrorism” charges. “This is a political decision and therefore I condemn it,” Imamoglu said on Twitter, shortly before going to the local CHP headquarters to protest along with other party deputies.

Next June 1, Imamoglu will sit before the judge to hear his sentence for calling the members of the Electoral Board “fools.” This same Thursday, a few minutes after the decision on Kaftancioglu was known, it has been reported that a judge has ordered the arrest of Metin Gurcan, from the Deva party – founded by a former AKP -. The former soldier and political analyst is accused of “espionage” for, among other actions, having provided reports to Spanish diplomats in Ankara.

Two weeks ago the Turkish Justice gave another setback to an opposition cause. At the conclusion of the 2013 Gezi Park anti-government protests trial, philanthropist Osman Kavala was sentenced to life in prison for “attempting to overthrow the government”. Seven more activists, including an architect, a filmmaker and a lawyer, received 18 years in prison with an immediate jail order.

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