Presidential candidates conclude campaign
KONYA / ISTANBUL / İZMİR
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (C), Selahattin Demirtaş (R)The three candidates in the Aug. 10 presidential elections in Turkey rallied their supporters for the last time in their campaigns, giving assertive messages and warnings about ballot box safety.
“Your stance, your prayers have been heard in Baghdad, Mosul and Arbil. They all called ‘Amen,’” the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his supporters in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on Aug. 9.
“I believe that you will make the ballot boxes explode. Never leave the ballot boxes without receiving the minutes of the proceedings showing the number of counted ballots. You will respond to any kind of fraud with those minutes,” Erdoğan said. “Maybe this is my last rally as prime minister and AK Party chair. This is not a farewell. This can only be a farewell to the old Turkey.”
‘Fat cats threaten the safety of ballot boxes’
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint nominee of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), opted to give a speech to the members of the CHP’s local branch in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district who were being trained to safeguard ballot boxes from fraud attempts.
“The votes that are won at the ballot box are being lost on tables. We shouldn’t let Turkey lose its last chance. The votes of the quiet masses will boom tomorrow and ‘ekmek’ will come out of the ballot box,” İhsanoğlu said. “Ekmek,” which means bread in Turkish, was chosen by İhsanoğlu’s campaign as a symbol that also sounds like his first name.
“Those fat cats that threaten the safety of the ballot boxes, those dark hands, have started to appear,” İhsanoğlu warned.
From Diyarbakır to İzmir
The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş was in the western province of İzmir for his last campaign rally on Aug. 9. He gave messages of unity in a city that is widely regarded as the stronghold of secular Turks, particularly CHP voters.
“We will enjoy freedom in our common homeland without any perception of separation and division. Nobody should be afraid, as it’s easy for us all to progress. An İzmir resident shouldn’t be afraid, because Diyarbakır is with him. Tekirdağ shouldn’t be afraid, because Hakkari is with him,” Demirtaş said, while also calling on Sunnis to “embrace” Alevis and Armenians and accusing Erdoğan of sowing discord between them.
Arguing that the HDP has become “the new main opposition party of Turkey,” Demirtaş said he now dreamt a president who could represent all provinces from the east to the west – “the first one ever that takes the side of the people.”