Erdogan holds mega-rally as rival whips up support
Elizabeth Schumacher with AFP
June 17, 2018
Both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his rival Muharrem Ince have been holding mass rallies daily a week ahead of elections. In April, Erdogan announced that elections would be held a year and a half early.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a mega-rally for his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul on Sunday, one week before the country's general election.
Erdogan was hoping to stay ahead of the curve after coming up against more opposition than he bargained for during the campaign.
"Are you in for a strong Turkey on June 24? Will you make history on June 24?" Erdogan asked the crowd of tens of thousands, who answered "yes" in unison and chanted his name.
Although Turkey was not due to hold a vote until November 2019, the government called for early elections in April. Many observers have suggested that this was part of Erdogan's tactic to create a stronger executive presidency in Turkey, and give the opposition less time to mount a substantial challenge.
However, rival Muharrem Ince of the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP) has managed to give Erdogan a run for his money with his dynamism and charisma. Although Erdogan is still the favorite to win next week's election, he faces what will likely be his toughest challenge at the ballot box yet — and it may well lead to a run-off vote.
The “Erdogan generation” goes to the polls
Erdogan refuses TV debate
Earlier on Sunday, Turkey's Hurriyet daily reported that Erdogan had refused an offer from Ince to participate in a live TV debate. Erdogan cited Ince's criticism of some planned "mega projects" of Erdogan's as grounds for denying the request.
Erdogan has said he would like to see a third bridge across the Bosporus and a canal in Istanbul to ease traffic, but Ince has said the projects were full of hidden expenses and would come at a cost to taxpayers.
Both Erdogan and Ince have been holding multiple rallies daily in the run-up to the election in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters.