Paraphrase the following news item (Source: CNN Meanwhile, Middle East edition)
After Turkey’s catastrophic quake, this could have been Erdogan’s last election. Instead, he’s poised to win
Paraphrased heading .. Erdogan braces for another term as he senses victory despite Turky’s calamitous quake
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rise to power was ushered in by the contentious political aftermath of the 1999 Izmit earthquake. So when another devastating quake laid waste to large swathes of southeast Turkey earlier this year, many observers expected the president’s two-decade rule to end with a full circle. Instead, Erdogan appears to have defied the odds.
Paraphrased text … The Izimit earthquake that drowned Turkey in a political quagmire in 1999 resulted in the ascent to power of the country’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. When Turkey faced one more very devastating earthquake early this year causing human misery of unimaginable proportions, many doomsdayers predicted that it would bring the curtains down on Erdogan’s 20-year rule. Erdogan has belied these predictions.
The first round of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary voting on May 14 made him the frontrunner in the race that pollsters predicted could unseat him. He won a nearly five-point lead over his principal rival, opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and fell less than half a percentage point short of the 50% threshold required for victory. His parliamentary bloc won a comfortable majority in the legislature.
Paraphrased text .. Although not with an outright win, Erdogan has emerged from the elections with a formidable five-percentage lead over the rival contender, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, for the presidency. Erdogan missed a win by a whisker – a half a percent shortfall from the required 50%. His parliamentary bloc won comfortably for the legislature.
This week, the third-place presidential candidate Sinan Ogan, publicly endorsed Erdogan, further boosting his chances against Kilicdaroglu in the run-off election on Sunday. Six right- and left-wing opposition groups united behind Kilicdaroglu in an unprecedented bid to unseat the sitting president, and cast a wide net over Turkish voters. They hoped to seize on public disgruntlement over a floundering economy and the aftermath of the quake. Erdogan, on the other hand, focused on reinvigorating his conservative strongholds.
Paraphrased text … To bolster Erdogan’s hopes for a win in the run-off, the candidate in the distant third position, Sinan Ogan, lent his support to Erdogan. Erdogan’s closest rival, Kilicdaroglu, had managed to rope in a wide spectrum of both leftwing and right wing opposition outfits. With such cross-party support, Kilicdaroglu had appeared to be a powerful challenger to Erdogan. The voters are still seething in anger against the government’s inaction in enforcing quake-proof building norms, and its rather insipid response in bringing relief supplies to the affected citizens. To cap it all, the Turkish economy has been limping for years under the load of soaring inflation. To counter this widespread resentment, Erdogan chose quite successfully to mobilize his traditional voter base among the conservatives who still repose faith on his leadership.
The men concluded their election campaigns with a similar public flourish. Erdogan prayed at the Hagia Sophia, the former Istanbul mosque and former church which the Turkish government in 1934 turned into a museum out of respect for both its Byzantine and Ottoman histories. Erdogan controversially annulled that decision in 2020, one of the many populist moves that have peppered his career.
Paraphrase text .. Erdogan succeeded to strike a chord among his countrymen as a true Islamist by offering prayer at the Hagia Sophia mosque. Erdogan was the brain behind reclaiming Hagia Sophia as a mosque from its care-takers who had preserved it as a museum since 1934. This architectural treasure showcased the confluence of both Byzantine and Ottoman lineages. Erdogan converted it to a mosque in 2020 using his presidential authority. He, thus, etched a place for himself as a true Islamist in the minds of his countrymen. Erdogan cleverly exploited this emotion by offering prayer there.