It was a dream moment for Ekrem Imamoglu. When his campaign bus went through Istanbul last month, a 13-year-old boy ran up.
"Older brother!" he shouted in Turkish "Her cool coke guzel olacak!" ̵
"Exactly, bravo!" the smiling mayor responded to Turkey's opposition and turned to his team. His slogan was settled.
A nation that has been through so much in the last few years – terrorist attacks, an attempted coup, the assault of the Syrian war, migratory waves – are increasingly being polarized for and against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Resistance has been crying for optimism. They found it in the slogan and in their candidate.
The Development of a Challenger to the President of Turkey
Ekrem Imamoglu, a formerly lesser-known 49-year-old mayor of Istanbul's Beylikduzu district, has addressed the hope his supporters want, channeling it to a relentlessly positive message, when he struggles to become mayor of Istanbul for the second time.
The local elections in March were tight. He confronted former Prime Minister and ruling AK Party heavyweight Binali Yildirim, with all of the state's resources, including its almost total power over Turkish media.
But Mr. Imamoglu still rules, by a sliver. Only 13,000 votes separated the two in a city of more than 15 million.
The government shouted foul, claiming that votes were stolen and that some opinioners were not allowed to perform the role. It did not contest votes for the district mayors, who were won by the AKP, even though they were held the same day and supervised by the same officials.
- Istanbul resumes a risky strategy for Erdogan
- Turkey's rulers are bad losers, say choices & # 39; win & # 39;
The high electoral commission commissioned a vote of the poll to select the city mayor under pressure, say critics of President Erdogan.
Is Erdogan gone too far?
A native of Istanbul, Mr Erdogan would never give up control of Turkey's economic power plant.
"Whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey," he said in a rally in the city, which he once ran as mayor, and who drove him to national power.
But, as Turkey's largest city leads the polls for the second time in three months, could the Serious Election President have much to blame for?
- Erdogan: Turkey's Pugnacious President
- Turkey's Erdogan is Mesut Ozil's Best Man  Most polls show Mr Imamoglu comfortably in front of this time. With the economy in crisis, inflation of almost 20% and the Turkish lira are slipping by a third over the last year, the desire to punish the government is widespread.
In addition, some AKP voters complain that the vote has made a mockery in the last vestige of Turkish democracy – credible elections – and is likely to change support.
"We will win our rights back with a smile on our face," Imamoglu said to the supporters as the recovery decision was announced. And it has been his strategy.
"I like hugging," he said as he launched his re-election campaign. "I will embrace those who resist us – no one will be able to escape our cravings."
Presidential rivals scent defeat
The nationalist government has tried to incite him with every label they could dream up: Greek, terrorist, coup player, American plant, baker of Egyptian autocrat, President Sisi. But they have been like water out of someone else's back.
"Erdogan is extremely concerned," said Murat Yetkin, former editor of Hurriyet Daily News and now author of the YetkinReport blog.
"He plays every card he has. If he loses, no matter how much it is, it is the end of his steady political rise over the last quarter of a century. In fact, he will still be president, his coalition will still steer the parliament, although many will perceive its defeat as the beginning of the end for him. "
The president's rivals within his party circles.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is preparing to form a new party, like Mr Erdogan's predecessor as president, supported by a former Minister of Economy. A Sunday loss would speed up these divisions.
As an early summer, the rain fell over the Bosphorus, and the campaign volunteers tried to secure every vote.
"He is kind to humans – and keeps up the attacks," said psychologist Enes Kandemir as he photographed friends wearing paper masks by Ekrem Imamoglu & # 39; s face. "He is not rude, and Turkey needs this."
Dilber Geckin, a housewife, took a flyer from Binali Yildirim from the AKP booth. "We are poor and they help us," she said. "We are mortal followers – and we will never change."
This is a crucial moment for Turkey's most powerful president in modern times, and for the deeply divided country he is leading.
Across the street from the campaign places, one serves me in a cafe.
"What do you think will happen in the election?" he asks.
"hard to know" I replied. "And you?"
He stopped. "Her seven coke guzel oak cake." Everything will be okay