CHP presidential candidate İnce vows to be ‘everyone’s president’
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has finally presented Muharrem İnce as its presidential candidate in a rally attended by thousands in Ankara, where İnce vowed he would “struggle for democracy” and be an “impartial president.”
“I will be the president of everyone, Turkey’s 80 million citizens, of members of the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party], the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party], the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party], SP [Felicity Party], leftists, rightists, Alevis, Sunnis, Turks and Kurds,” İnce said in his first speech to CHP supporters in a packed hall on May 4 after CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu announced him as their candidate.
“I have carried the party’s badge for 39 years. I will be an impartial president,” he said. “For this reason, I am now giving my pin to you,” he told Kılıçdaroğlu, removing his CHP label pin and giving it to the party leader.
“A president should embrace 80 million people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said after, putting a Turkish flag pin on İnce, in a symbolic show of neutrality.
İnce, a 54-year-old ex-physics teacher, joined the CHP in the early 1990s and has been a lawmaker since 2002 from the northwestern province of Yalova. He became the CHP’s deputy group leader in 2007.
İnce is widely known as one of the strongest speakers of the opposition and is known to have made fierce speeches in parliament against the AKP.
He also raced against Kılıçdaroğlu for party leadership in previous CHP elections. In 2016, İnce criticized the CHP’s support to lift the immunity of members of parliament.
Speaking of his previous competition against Kılıçdaroğlu, İnce regarded his candidacy as a “democratic move” made by Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP. He said it “shows the democratic understanding of the opposition party.”
İnce, speaking passionately, hinted his candidacy against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be at the heart of his election campaigns.
Impartiality and struggle for democracy
When presenting İnce as the main opposition’s presidential candidate, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP would focus on the deterioration of Turkey’s democracy in the election campaigns.
“Democracy is under threat,” he said, while also touching on the ailing economy and issues in education and foreign policy.
Reiterating the CHP’s criticisms of the state of emergency rule, Kılıçdaroğlu said “the judiciary, legislation and execution have gone under the control of one authority. The mechanism controlling accountability has collapsed. The media is under [a single authority’s] control.”
“We will take back our future,” İnce said, speaking after Kılıçdaroğlu.
“Our future is slipping away from our hands, they are destroying our joy of life, they are stealing not only ours but our children’s future too. Our people are unemployed, left without food, without a voice, without a breath. It is our job to show them the way out,” he said.
He stressed his presidential campaign will focus on two issues: The fight against terrorism and corruption.
“First, we will struggle against terror regardless of where it comes from,” he said.
“Second, I will pursue those who robbed this nation of us, supported terrorism and stole from this nation,” he added.
After the meeting, İnce and CHP members attended a ceremony at the building of the first Turkish Parliament in Ankara following Friday prayers.
He will officially begin the presidential campaign in his hometown Yalova on May 5 with a rally.