Nuri Yurdakul, mayoral candidate of the opposition Felicity Party (SP) in Elmadag district of Ankara, has resigned from SP and joined to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday, three days before the local elections, on grounds that SP was allegedly supporting terrorist organizations.
In response, SP seniors denied Yurdakul’s withdrawal justification, claiming that it was because of blackmail by AKP.
Yurdakul released a statement only a few hours to an election rally of AKP leader and President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Elmadag, saying, “as a father of a martyr, it is impossible for me to feel comfortable with the [Nation] alliance, which is arm in arm with terror organizations.”
AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have formed the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition to run against the Nation Alliance, which has been formed by three opposition parties; Republican People’s Party (CHP), Good Party (IYI) and SP, in the upcoming local elections on March 31.
In response to former candidate’s statement, Hasan Bitmez, SP senior responsible for electoral affairs, stated on social media that “tactics of the ruling party, including slander, threatening, bid, blackmail, mobbing, and a crackdown on our candidates have been going on, since the beginning of the election process.”
In a press release on the same day, Fatih Beyazit, SP Ankara provincial chairman, alleged that Yurdakul was taken by some officials to an unknown place the day before, and was out of reach, even to his wife all night long.
“Yurdakul said that he was blackmailed before. Previously, in a televised interview, he mentioned an offer for a directorate general post [of an institution by AKP]. I regret to say, [unfortunately] that is the situation of our country, where a martyr’s father faces a blackmail [by AKP], in the sake of winning the election in one more district,” argued Beyazit.
Beyazit went on to say that Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, had visited Elmadag before Yurdakul’s resignation. President Erdogan also visited in the afternoon, on the day of resignment.
Erdogan took the stage with Yurdakul, announcing his joining to AKP.
Critics say Erdogan and his ally, MHP leader Bahceli, have been using survival and terrorism rhetoric throughout local election campaigns to get support from people sensitive to nationalist issues.