For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sunday's local elections are not just a vote to decide who should collect the garbage and maintain roads — they are about Turkey's future national "survival."

After 17 years in office, the Turkish leader has a tight grip on power, but he is campaigning hard for a strong mandate that he says he needs to protect Turkey against threats from domestic and foreign enemies and to press ahead with military operations against Kurdish militants inside Turkey as well as in Syria and Iraq.

Analysts say the rhetoric is aimed at diverting attention away from rising inflation, a sharp increase in food prices and high unemployment that has hit his traditional low-income voter base particularly hard.