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Blow to Erdogan as key opposition candidate dramatically withdraws from Turkey elections

Courtesy: Geo News

Just days before Turkey’s highly contested presidential election, one of the four candidates, Muharrem Ince, has decided to withdraw from the race, introducing a significant twist in the political landscape.

Ince’s departure comes as the opposition parties have a prime opportunity to remove Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power by consolidating their support behind a single candidate.

During a press conference, Ince announced his withdrawal, citing various reasons for his decision. One factor he mentioned was the circulation of fabricated explicit images, which had tarnished his reputation. Ince expressed disappointment in the relentless character assassination he had endured for 45 days, emphasizing that Turkish authorities had failed to protect his integrity.

He revealed that doctored videos and images, including one where his face was superimposed on an Israeli pornographic video, had been circulated by individuals claiming to be part of the opposition.

Ince also voiced concerns about the potential blame he might face if the alliance of opposition parties failed to secure victory in the presidential vote. By stepping aside, he aimed to alleviate any internal divisions and prevent the opposition from scapegoating him for their potential loss. Consequently, Ince’s withdrawal provided a significant boost to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan’s primary rival. The announcement had an immediate impact, leading to a surge in Turkey’s main stock market.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held power in Turkey for over two decades. However, his administration faces various challenges, including an alarmingly high inflation rate of 44%. Additionally, the government has faced criticism for its handling of a devastating double earthquake in February, which claimed the lives of over 50,000 individuals across 11 provinces.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a 74-year-old leader known for his mild-mannered approach, heads an alliance of six opposition parties. Recent polls indicate that he currently enjoys 49% of the vote. While Muharrem Ince’s own share of support in the polls was relatively small, opposition supporters hope that his withdrawal will sway the balance in favour of Kilicdaroglu, potentially securing him the majority needed to win the election outright on Sunday. However, if none of the candidates manages to secure 50% of the vote, a run-off election will be held two weeks later.

Ince, 59, had previously garnered 30% of the vote as a candidate for the main opposition Republican People’s Party five years ago. However, he departed from the party the following year, charting his own course in Turkish politics.

1- Header image: Muharrem Ince said he did not want to be blamed for an opposition defeat.—Memleket party

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