top of page

Turkey's soft-spoken Kemal Kilicdaroglu takes on powerful Erdogan


He is so calm he sometimes drives even his own colleagues crazy, one close confidant says.

And yet 74-year-old Kemal Kilicdaroglu - pronounced Kilitch-daro-lu - has the biggest chance so far of unseating Turkey's most powerful man, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since he took power 20 years ago.

A soft-spoken former civil servant, he is the very antithesis of Turkey's grandstanding, powerful president.

He has lost several elections since he took charge of the Republican People's Party (CHP) in 2010, when his predecessor was forced out because of an extra-marital affair.

Perhaps not the obvious candidate, then, for six opposition parties uniting behind a single person to challenge Mr Erdogan.

And yet Kemal Kilicdaroglu is a highly experienced politician. He was elected in 2002, the same year Mr Erdogan's ruling AK Party came to power. He has survived a string of violent attacks, earning the reputation of being one of Turkey's most-targeted politicians.


In his 13 years as leader, he has broadened his party's appeal and "embraced all the different colours in the country", as he puts it.

bottom of page