Driving through the city of Hatay in Turkey is like touring a war zone in the months after a battle. Some apartment buildings are gutted, others are massive piles of rubble and tangled metal.

“This city was a rose garden,” says Ali Kandenir, a 62-year-old truck driver, in a settlement of tents housing families displaced in the February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. “Now the city is gone.”

Kandenir says he is among those who intend to show his anger at the polls this weekend, when Turkey votes in what could be its most significant election in decades. But other voters in this tent city say the opposite, that they will proudly reelect their current leader for another term.

Kandenir lives about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away in a temporary metal housing unit known as a container. He is trying to collect small amounts of humanitarian aid because his home — along with billions of dollars in property — was destroyed in the earthquakes.

As Kandenir describes how he fled his home in the rain in early February as the earth shook beneath him, his wife, Gul Kandenir, wipes tears from her face.

“The people here are in pain,” she says.

Divided voters

Ali Kandenir’s face grows slightly redder as he continues telling his story.

Too many people died in the earthquakes, he says, and there was too much destruction. He says Turkey’s refugee population — the largest in the world — is taking resources from people who are suffering.

“Rescue teams came but it was not fast enough,” he says. “My brother survived because we could pull him from the rubble ourselves.”

As he speaks, Devlet Ipek, a 48-year-old mother of four pops out of her nearby tent and watches us through a chain link fence. She invites us in.

Ipek says she thinks the government has responded to the disaster as well as possible and that she plans to vote for it to remain in power.

She says the Islamic nature of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration is welcomed, as are, in her opinion, the millions of refugees in Turkey.

“They are afraid because there is no security in Syria,” she says. “Why should they go?”

Opposition issues

Erdogan has led Turkey for more than 20 years, and some political parties say they believe this election may be their chance to step in.

“It’s possible for us to win in the first round,” says one member of the Republic People’s Party, the leading opposition party, who does not want to be identified. If one presidential candidate does not win more than 50% of the first vote, a second round will be held in two weeks.

If his party wins, he says, they have promised to reform the justice system and to expel refugees within two years.

But analysts say Turkey’s skyrocketing prices are the voters’ biggest concern. The cost of food and rent has doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in some parts of Turkey.

“It’s not a normal time to have an election,” says Ipek, as the wind loudly flaps her plastic tent walls. “But that’s what we are doing, so we will do it.”