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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Turkish opposition leader drawing huge crowds before elections

Tomorrow is the date for the first round of national elections in Turkey. While the nation’s current tyrant, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still the favorite to win in the scant bit of polling available, the race is shaping up to be closer than most observers had expected. The real surprise this month has been the vocal outpouring of support for Erdogan’s leading challenger, Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP). He’s been holding a series of rallies to drum up support and get people out to the polls, with one recent event allegedly drawing more than 100,000 people to it.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main rival in Sunday’s polls on Friday challenged the Turkish strongman in a mass rally in the capital Ankara, inviting him for a television debate as a “last chance.”

“Tomorrow is the last evening. If you have the courage, confront me,” Muharrem Ince, a fiery lawmaker from the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), told hundreds of thousands of people in Ankara.

“Look, that’s my last proposal to you … If you want, I can even cancel my Istanbul rally for you. Come, confront me, let’s debate on tv,” he said.

That was the second giant rally the opposition leader addressed within the space of two days.

The really massive rally was held in the Aegean city of Izmir, followed by one in Ankara which overflowed with tens of thousands of people. Unless Erdogan accepts his invitation to debate (which won’t happen) he will be holding another one in Istanbul this afternoon. This guy is turning into the Bernie Sanders of Turkey at this point, with people flooding the streets and overwhelming the capacity of stadiums.

Unfortunately, he will probably achieve the same level of success as Bernie Sanders, and possibly for some of the same reasons. There’s little reason to believe that this election won’t be marred with “mistakes” in vote counts and incidents of Ince supporters being mysteriously turned away when they go to vote. Also, Erdogan does still retain a significant body of support among the more hardline Muslim faithful.



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