Presidential candidate İhsanoğlu makes rare gesture with symbolic donations to competitors
Okan Konuralp ANKARA
DHA PhotoEkmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the joint presidential candidate of the two main opposition parties, has made a gesture rarely seen in Turkish politics, donating a symbolic amount of money to the campaign bank accounts of his two rivals.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş responded to the gesture differently, with the former returning the donation and the latter demanding the full amount.
The highest amount of donations that an individual can make for each round of the two-round presidential election is set at 9,082 Turkish Liras and 51 kuruş.
By putting 1,000 Turkish Liras in the bank accounts of both the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) candidate Erdoğan and HDP co-leader Demirtaş, İhsanoğlu apparently wanted to display his will for a “gentlemanly campaign” in the run up to the elections, sources told Hürriyet.
İhsanoğlu, a senior diplomat and academic nominated as a presidential candidate by the two main opposition parties, as well as five minor parties that are not represented at Parliament, also made a donation to his own campaign bank account, the same sources said.
The HDP’s presidential candidate, Demirtaş, was quick to give a witty response to the donation gesture, through a message sent via his Twitter account.
“Hocam [My teacher], you troubled yourself. Thank you. However, the other one [Erdoğan] has a lot of that [money]. You could have donated it all to me, relax,” Demirtaş wrote.
Later on the afternoon of July 14, Erdoğan’s lawyer Ali Özkaya told Anadolu Agency that his client had returned the donation.
“Upon an order by our prime minister, this donation - which wasn’t included in the campaign bank account - has been returned to Mr. İhsanoğlu with thanks,” Özkaya said briefly.
As recently as last week, İhsanoğlu disclosed that Demirtaş had called him over the telephone to extend his wishes of success for the campaign.
“We all want it to be a civilized race. Honestly, Selahattin Bey’s participation in this race with this chivalry, this experience and this style will solidify the environment of such a gentlemanly race,” İhsanoğlu said in an interview with the Habertürk TV channel on July 10, stating that Demirtaş had called him earlier in the same day.
“Our dialogue with him will continue,” İhsanoğlu added regarding the HDP’s candidate.
In response to a question, he also underlined that he had not received any call from Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate. İhsanoğlu’s last meeting with Erdoğan was in late December when he paid a courtesy visit to him in Ankara before completing his term as the secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he added.
Erdoğan has dismissively labeled İhsanoğlu “mon cher.” In Turkish, the French phrase “mon cher” (“my dear” in English) is a term of ridicule that Erdoğan has used in the past to describe retired Turkish diplomats.
In response, İhsanoğlu told reporters that he would only be grateful for such description. “Mon cher, for those who don’t know, means ‘my dear,’” he said.