Erdoğan challenges Kılıçdaroğlu to run for presidency
“I wish for the person leading the main opposition to join the competition. He should not worry or look for someone else to run. He should show his face. He may benefit from seeing how many votes he will get from the nation,” Erdoğan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in an interview with private broadcaster NTV on April 21.
“Come on and run as a candidate for the presidency, let’s see how many votes the nation will give you. I consider the other candidates as incidental, as a waste of time,” he added.
Speaking about the early election called for June 24, Erdoğan said the ruling AKP will “continue its tenure if the nation wishes and will step down if the nation says ‘enough.’”
Parliament on April 20 passed a bill calling for early elections, with 386 lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties supporting the move. The polls had originally expected to be held in November 2019.
‘Bahçeli compelled us’
Erdoğan said the AKP was compelled to consider the issue following a proposal by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is allied with the AKP.
“The statement of our ally [Bahçeli] compelled us to assess the situation. We evaluated it and then reached [a conclusion],” he added, stressing that there was “no meeting with Bahçeli prior to his call for early elections.”
He also said he would have “no problem” about a request for a joint pre-election rally with the MHP, while adding that public opinion polls will be conducted to determine his party’s candidates for parliament.
The ruling party will begin campaigning following an announcement of the election schedule by the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK), Erdoğan said, also vowing to address thousands of Turkish citizens in a foreign country, without giving further details.
“I will address 10,000 to 11,000 Turkish citizens in a closed space in a country that I will not announce at the moment,” Erdoğan said.