People’s Alliance holds massive rallies in Istanbul, Ankara
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chair Devlet Bahçeli, both who are leading the People’s Alliance, held massive rallies in Turkey’s two largest metropolises Istanbul and Ankara over the weekend on the eve of next week’s local elections, reiterating their call on people to vote “not only for local administrations, but also the future of the nation.”
Erdoğan and Bahçeli, chairs of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP respectively, held their last joint rally on March 24 on the eve of the municipal elections in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people.
Erdoğan announced the turnout in the rally was 1,600,000. The two leaders had gathered around 120,000 people in the Aegean province of İzmir and some 450,000 voters in the capital Ankara in previous joint rallies.
Citing Istanbul’s importance for the People’s Alliance, Erdoğan vowed: “We are determined to keep Istanbul as a city of Islam and as a city of Turks until eternity.” Istanbul became the shining star of its region and a global center under the rule of the AKP in the last 25 years, the president said, calling on voters to hit the ballot boxes on March 31 and vote for Binali Yıldırım, the joint candidate for Istanbul and a former prime minister.
Erdoğan promised to increase the number of foreign visitors by five million to generate soaring revenues from Istanbul by boosting what he called congress tourism and setting up a huge platform for the film industry through a massive investment worth 900 million Turkish Liras.
He called on all his supporters to stand united until election day and vote for the People’s Alliance’s candidates.
MHP leader: ‘Istanbul, not Constantinople’
For his part, Bahçeli stressed the importance of Istanbul for the country’s “survival,” which he and his ally have placed at the heart of their election campaigns. “Istanbul is not an ordinary front. If it falls, our Turkey will also fall.”
“The People’s Alliance is very aware of the sensitive status of Istanbul and will move accordingly not to lose control of this city,” Bahçeli stated, saying that the attacker of two mosques in New Zealand last week was vengeful towards Turks’ presence in Europe. “There is no place called Constantinople, just like how there is no place called Kurdistan,” Bahçeli said.
“We are in the same boat against economic terrorism. We are in the same boat against those trying to break our unity,” he stated.
“The March 31 election is an election of fate for Istanbul,” Bahçeli said. Criticizing the opposition’s alliance and its alleged cooperation with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Bahçeli vowed they will never allow the PKK to control Istanbul. The MHP leader called the cooperation between the opposition parties and the HDP “treason.” The MHP and AKP have for long accused the HDP of being a political wing of the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Binali Yıldırım, the People’s Alliance’s mayoral candidate for Istanbul, has vowed to serve all residents of Turkey’s largest city regardless of their political views in the event of his victory.
“I swear that I will bring services to Istanbul with relentless determination. We will serve everyone in this city without discriminating. We will work for everybody. Because what suits us is to work with love and to serve Istanbul,” Yıldırım told crowds at a joint rally held by the People’s Alliance, made up of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
‘We will crown Ankara’
In his address in the capital, Erdoğan called on his electorate to “crown Ankara with your votes” on the night of March 31.
Ankara had been beset by restrictions and pressures by Republican People’s Party (CHP) governments in the past, Erdoğan claimed, saying his government “cleared the Turkish capital of this black stain.”
Erdoğan slammed the CHP’s mayoral candidate for Ankara, Mansur Yavaş, over allegations that he had been involved in fraud and forgery in the past, saying: “You see, the CHP nominated such a person for Ankara. If this person is elected, just think about the kind of fraud and forgery he will be involved in in the future? That’s why a very big lesson should be given.”
The AKP’s strategy for the development of Ankara was founded on four main titles — education, health, justice and security — and for its rise as a leading city under the titles “transportation, energy, agriculture and foreign policy,” Erdoğan stressed.
“And there is a rising Turkey. Why is the world jealous of us? This is because we say the world is bigger than five and they become resentful,” he said, referring to his long-voiced criticism of the U.N. Security Council’s structure.
Citing some of the investments and services introduced in Ankara, Erdoğan stressed that they have made Ankara the heart of the defense industry. Further stressing that four of the world’s top 100 defense industry firms are located in Ankara, Erdoğan went on to say that the 50 percent of Turkey’s defense industry exports in 2018, which was worth over $2 billion, was realized by Ankara.