Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan is on the presidential campaign trail, vowing to serve the country even more diligently, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
“I’m not leaving you. I’m not pausing to serve. I’m not going to rest. On the contrary, I’m nominated to a higher post to serve you, my country and my nation, better,” Erdoğan said during his first presidential campaign rally in the Black Sea city of Samsun on 5th July.
The Presidential elections are scheduled for 10th August. Should none of the candidates get over 50% of the votes, the top two contestants will go through to the second round on 24th August.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had officially announced Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as their joint presidential candidate on 16th June.
Kurdish problem-focused the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, had nominated its co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş as its presidential candidate on 1st July.
“We sided with the nation. The CHP, MHP and HDP sided with the state. This is our difference,” Erdoğan said in Samsun, while stressing the symbolism of the city in which Mustafa Kemal Atatürk began Turkey’s war of independence in 1919.
“I kindly ask you to visit the ballot box and vote on August 10. If there is somebody you know having a vacation, find them and tell them that they must come to vote,” Turkish PM also said.
The participation rate is seen as key for presidential elections. CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had claimed that İhsanoğlu will win the polls if his party and the MHP can get all their constituents to the ballot box.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had confirmed expectations, announcing Erdoğan as its presidential candidate at a lavish presentation event on 1st July with nearly 4,000 party members in attendance.
Erdoğan, who had previously made clear his aspiration to become the country’s first ever president to be directly elected by popular vote, had described the election as a “milestone” for a “new era” during his acceptance speech. “Those who ask for a ‘neutral’ president in reality want a president who will side with the state against the people. That era is now closed,” he had said at the presentation rally.