A video showing Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has just won yet another election, walking with difficulty has given rise to speculation about what many say is his deteriorating health and whether he will be able to complete another five years as head of state.
The video, which was circulating among Turkish Twitter users on Monday evening, shows Erdoğan, 69, getting out of his official car and walking with difficulty while surrounded by his security detail and other people. The video emerged after a runoff election held on Sunday when Erdoğan defeated rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the opposition’s joint candidate, receiving 52.1 percent of the nationwide vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.8 percent.
— Prof. Dr. AHMET SALTIK MD, BSc, LLM (@profsaltik) May 29, 2023
There are claims that Erdoğan is wearing specially designed shoes that help maintain balance and are generally worn by the elderly.
According to Professor Salih Kuk, a medical doctor, Erdoğan is using leg braces in addition to wearing specially designed shoes to maintain his balance. Kuk tweeted that devices he also uses for his back pain and problems standing can easily be seen in his photos.
“His body is packed with metal devices,” tweeted Emre Uslu, an analyst and academic in the United States, posting two photos of Erdoğan.
Metal aygıtlarla sarmışlar her yerini. pic.twitter.com/v7BkA98CIQ
— Emre Uslu, PhD (@EmreUslu) May 29, 2023
Questions about whether Erdoğan is fit to rule the country for another five years frequently came up during his campaign for the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, when Erdoğan showed signs of poor health in front of the cameras.
For example, he was seen dozing off during a live interview on the pro-government A Haber station on Friday evening, just two days before the runoff election. When Erdoğan began the doze off, the cameras immediately moved to the journalist, Banu El, who was trying to ask him a question. El tried to use long sentences, apparently to give Erdoğan some time to wake up.
AKP’lilerin Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan, A Haber 'in canlı yayınında uyudu.
— Yazan Adam (@twit_Meclisi) May 26, 2023
In yet another incident, he interrupted a live television interview on the pro-government Kanal 7 station in late April before returning and apologizing, saying he had developed a “stomach bug.” He cancelled his planned appearances at election rallies the following day.
Ali Yeşildağ of the influential Yeşildağ family and a former associate of Erdoğan, said in a video earlier this month that claims of the president suffering from epilepsy were true, adding that those privy to this closely guarded secret have personally profited from Erdoğan’s generosity.
According to Yeşildağ, Erdoğan’s epilepsy has been a significant influence on both his personal and political decisions. He alleged that Erdoğan requires a companion with knowledge of his condition at all times, influencing his daily programs. Yeşildağ’s videos in which he revealed alleged corruption and illicit activities involving Erdoğan and his inner circle were published by investigative journalist Cevheri Güven on his YouTube channel in the run-up to the May 14 elections.
Meanwhile, the debate over Erdoğan’s health brought his remarks about a former prime minister to public attention.
In 2002 the Turkish leader criticized former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) for having health problems, saying he should resign. Ecevit refused to resign but was swept from power just months later by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), as voters were tired of his long political career.
Now, over 20 years later, Erdoğan finds himself in a similar position, facing criticism over his health as he secured yet another term in office in the elections
With the elections now out of the way, the question on everyone’s minds is whether Erdoğan’s health issues will prove to be his undoing.