Seen as a sign of concern over losing altitude in the upcoming local elections on 31 March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of ruling AK Party (AKP), said during a rally last week that they couldn’t maintain a consolidation among voters yet.
He pointed to the main opposition, the Republican’s People Party (CHP), as a target and claimed that it cooperates with terrorist organizations.
“March 31 elections are not merely polling for municipalities, but it is also a choice of survival,” he said during his speech in the southwestern province of Denizli on Friday, Evrensel daily reported.
“We should emphasize the importance of March 31,” a cautious Erdogan added, asserting it is critical in order to accomplish objectives in the coming years.
“Alliance of dishonor”
Repeating his claim, Erdogan said that CHP allies with pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and Nationalist Good Party (IYI), calling them an “alliance of dishonor.”
The Turkish president argued that his people would never vote for people who are supported by terrorist organizations, urging voters to give the alliance a lethal “Ottoman slap.”
Blaming his opponents for being aligned with terrorist entities has always been Erdogan’s rhetoric in his political speeches, adding fuel to flames of an already deeply polarized country, which is criticized by many columnists and academics.
“There is no difference between Turkey’s HDP and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK),” Erdogan said early in February, infuriating pro-Kurdish party’s millions of voters.
Ankara designates PKK, which has been fighting a three-decade war in the country, as a terrorist organization.
HDP is the 3rd biggest party in the Turkish parliament, with 65 lawmakers, overtaking the ultra-nationalist MHP, an AKP ally.
HDP’s former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been imprisoned over terror charges, in parallel with Erdogan’s long efforts to eliminate his powerful rival, which led AKP – for the first time in its 17-year rule – to lose its majority vote in the June 2015 parliamentary elections.
Erdogan took his stance a step further on Friday, during another rally in Turkey’s southwestern port city of Fethiye, by voicing a self-proclaimed statement, saying that secularist CHP “secretly collaborates with the PKK and the Gulen movement, deemed also a terrorist organization by Ankara with the abbreviation of FETO”.
“The CHP’s campaign slogans were determined in Pennsylvania [where Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan’s foe lives], and its candidate lists were decided in cooperation with Qandil [a headquarter in Northern Iraq where PKK leaders live], ” Erdogan alleged.
“Votes for CHP will benefit terrorist organizations” – Erdogan
“Do my fellow brothers and sisters who vote for CHP know where their votes are going?” he asked, in an effort to change their course from the party, arguing that the votes for CHP will benefit the “terrorist organizations.”
The Turkish President exemplified the mass crackdown in which hundreds of thousands of people were dismissed, detained, or arrested following an aborted coup in 2016, as their determination for “fighting against terrorism.”
Challenging dissident citizens of Turkey, Erdogan said: “Our course is clear. We entered their caves in Qandil. We’ve chased them and they’ve escaped. We chased FETO, they ran away, we again chased [abroad.] We put in prison whoever we could catch.”