‘This is only the beginning,’ CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu says, warns of ‘witch-hunt’
Şükrü KÜÇÜKŞAHİN ANKARA
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu speaks during a press conference in Ankara, March 31. AA Photo
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has evaluated his Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) results in the March 30 local elections as a “start,” while warning of a possible “witch-hunt” after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aggressive victory speech.
“I admit that we did not collect as many votes as we expected. But we are going step by step, assimilating [the results]. We will get more in touch with the people, tell them more truths,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a press statement March 31, adding the result that most gratified him was the victory of the CHP’s candidate in the southern province of Hatay.
“We will not go to the facility and blame the people. We will question ourselves and put the results on the table,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed Erdoğan’s victory address in front of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters on the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara, describing it as an “antagonizing” speech.
“He has clearly started to threaten democracy, the law and social groups. You cannot threaten any citizen as long as the CHP exists. You are going to start a witch-hunt? What happened to the rule of law?” he asked.
Erdoğan had announced that he had filed criminal complaints about some of his critics, adding that “they could flee.”
Kılıçdaroğlu added that he expected pressure from the government to increase in the coming months.
“They have been trying to shape the opposition, because [Erdoğan] does not tolerate any opposition. He has shaped the state, then the judiciary. But you will not be strong enough to shape the CHP as you wish,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the presence of family members and aides implicated in the graft scandal on the balcony, including Erdoğan’s son Bilal, who stood next to his father throughout almost the entire speech. “You cannot expect a speech to give hope while making it along with people whose names were involved in corruption. Politicians who have been engulfed in dirty politics cannot do that,” he said.
The CHP head once again rejected claims of collaboration with the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan accuses of orchestrating the graft probes against the government.
The ruling AKP won its ninth consecutive polls with a solid majority, amid claims of corruption and despite slipping into more authoritarian methods.
The arbitrary shut down of Twitter and YouTube within less than a week, despite court orders ruling for the suspension of the blocks to both websites, have not affected the AKP’s ability to garner a significant majority at polls.
Kılıçdaroğlu had earlier denied rumors he will resign because of his party’s performance in the March 30 local elections.
“Of course we will evaluate the results accordingly and tell the right from the wrong, but the result shouldn’t be seen as a failure,” Kılıçdaroğlu told daily Hürriyet in his first statement after the elections.
While denying rumors of resignation as “absurd and completely false,” Kılıçdaroğlu stressed how the CHP had increased the number of its votes in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir significantly.
“In large metropolises, we increased our votes. This was the first election that the countryside voted for most metropolises. In the past, we have been losing elections because of the countryside votes, but in this election, we made our presence felt,” CHP leader said