Muharrem İnce challenges other presidential candidates to TV debate
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce has challenged President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other candidates to take part in a televised debate.
“Mr. Erdoğan, you’ve spoken about modern civilizations; let’s do it like modern societies. Let’s debate on TV, tell Turkey about our visions with other candidates,” İnce told a group of reporters in parliament on May 7.
Erdoğan on May 6 had vowed his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) “will bring Turkey above the level of contemporary civilization.”
“[What Mr. Erdoğan said yesterday] was very nice. I am very happy. But in contemporary societies and in the West, candidates appear on television together; they debate. And I am ready,” İnce said.
Speaking of his election promises, İnce said he will ensure Turkish citizens receive 500 Turkish Liras every May 19 Youth and Sports Day and Oct. 29 Republic Day.
He said he would generate the income to make such payments by closing the presidential complex where Erdoğan lives “for six months.”
He also promised to make the presidential complex “a place used for academic purposes.”
“The smartest youths will study there. I will make the place a center for science. And with the savings, I will go to the Çankaya Palace,” he said.
Attack on İYİ Party
Meanwhile, CHP deputy group leader Özgür Özel condemned a recent attack on İYİ (Good) Party members in Istanbul, accusing the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of creating a hostile environment for opposition parties.
“İYİ Party members have been attacked while campaigning for their party. The president of this country, the prime minister and the leader of a party have been calling them terrorists for a year. They’ve mentioned their names alongside terror organizations; they’ve shown them as a target,” Özel said on a private radio station on May 7.
On May 6, seven İYİ Party members were left wounded after supporters of the MHP attacked their party booth in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district on May 6.
He said the attack came after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli accused supporters of the İYİ Party, who signed a petition in support of party leader Meral Akşener to run for president, of being influenced by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“If you are saying that those who have signed the petition are FETÖ members, it means you are showing all these innocent people as targets,” Özel said.
“They are trying to seize their seats through threats and smears,” he added.
Alliance with HDP
Özel refuted claims the alliance between the CHP, İYİ Party, Felicity Party (SP) and Democrat Party (DP) excluded the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “The CHP put a great effort into establishing a zero-threshold alliance. But it is not the time to discuss that anymore,” Özel said.
“It is apparent what Erdoğan has done to the HDP members and its co-leader. Under Muharrem İnce’s presidency and the CHP’s rule, there will no longer be lawmakers imprisoned,” he said.
Nine HDP members, including former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, are currently behind bars on terrorism charges. İnce has vowed to visit Demirtaş in prison and promised to take “bold steps” to solve Turkey’s long-time Kurdish issue if he becomes president.