Turkish presidential candidate quits, opening door to defeat Erdogan
One of the presidential candidates in Turkey’s May 14 election has withdrawn from the race, probably increasing the chances of a defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Muharrem Ince of the Homeland Party said he was abandoning the presidential race ahead of tomorrow’s vote.
Ince was polling a small share of the vote but opposition supporters hope his withdrawal will enable presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu to secure over 50 per cent, which is needed to win the election outright on Sunday and avoid a May 28 runoff.
Kilicdaroglu, 74, told a rally of supporters on Friday in Ankara that he would restore “peace and democracy” to Türkiye.
Alongside allies from across the political spectrum, who have formed an unprecedented coalition against Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu reportedly wore a bulletproof vest after numerous attempts on his life during his lengthy political career.
If he wins the presidency this month, Kilicdaroglu will face the challenge of keeping his varied coalition satisfied while it shares little other than antipathy to Erdogan.
Kilicdaroglu, who is slightly ahead in the opinion polls, is hoping to attract the five million first-time voters who have only known Erdogan’s rule.
The opposition candidate said he was delighted that conservatives and nationalists were appearing on the same stage as the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The field is further opened by Ince’s departure.
As the candidate for the main opposition CHP five years ago, Ince secured 30 per cent of the vote but he quit the party the following year.
Ince blamed a smear campaign against him for his decision to step down.
“Turkey could not protect my reputation. A presidential candidate’s reputation is important,” the 59-year-old said. “Fake invoices, fake videos, pictures… they took a video from an Israeli porn website and added my face there. Unfortunately, some people in Turkey shared those for the sake of being in so-called opposition.”
Ince called his Homeland Party and his candidacy a “third way”.
“The Homeland Party is important for Turkey’s future. It must be in the parliament. I want votes for the Homeland Party from every household,” Ince said.
He said the opposition now had no one else to blame for failing to beat Erdogan tomorrow. “When they lose the election they will put the blame on us. They shouldn’t have any excuses left.”
Erdogan knows how to win elections. Picture credit: Wikipedia