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By On June 24, 2018

Turkey election special: Erdogan adviser vs Saadet Party leader

23/06/2018: A previous version of this article erroneously referred to Ibrahim Kalin as the spokesperson for the AK Party and President Erdogan. Kalin is the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency. This has been corrected.

Millions of Turkish voters will head to the polls on June 24 to simultaneously elect a president and new members of parliament. It's the first time since the referendum last year when the people approved key constitutional amendments - giving more power to the presidency.

Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) argue that a more powerful executive presidency helps Turkey tackle economic and security challenges.

But critics like Temel Karamollaoglu, presidential candidate and leader of the Saadet Party, warns that Erdogan is moving the country to a dictatorship and says the president is not doing e nough to unite the Muslim world abroad.

Just because he [Erdogan] keeps winning, it doesn't make him an authoritarian person.

Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesperson

"The new presidential system is going to lead Turkey to a dictatorship," Karamollaoglu says. "There is no doubt, because the parliament has no influence on the president. They can't control, they can't produce any values which will be effective, so the president, in fact, will decide whatever he thinks proper without consulting the parliament."

And although the Turkish people voted for the constitutional changes last year, Karamollaoglu says, "the public can make mistakes as well. It will be too late when they see, realise what the dangers are and what they will face."

"We believe in separation of power ... The government should not have any influence on justice, on t he courts. Today, the government directly controls and gives in fact orders to the courts. You can't have justice in a world like this," he says.

Asked about his chance to winning the presidency, he says, "there are some rumours that certain tricks are prepared, but we don't know what will happen. When you take part in elections, you go there to win."

President Erdogan has been ruling Turkey for more than 15 years, and his spokesperson is confident that he will win another term - with increased powers.

"Those who claim that the new system will be some kind of an authoritarian autocracy, one-man rule, etc, they should study political history and look at examples of other presidential systems," says Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency.

"If you look at for example, how much power an American president has, it's not any different ... The presidential system cannot be called an authoritari an system. In fact, if you look at the model itself, the full separation of powers - judiciary, executive and legislative - that is fully separated in the presidential system."

The government should not have any influence on justice, on the courts. Today, the government directly controls and gives in fact orders to the courts. You can't have justice in a world like this.

Temel Karamollaoglu, leader of the Saadet Party

According to Kalin, "the judiciary used to be dominated by a kind of a more secularist type of judges and prosecuters in the past. Then what happend in the last five, six years was, the Gulenists infiltrated the judiciary ... they put their people in key positions of the judiciary - prosecuters and judges ... and they were controlling the judiciary. We have eliminated the Gulenists from the judiciary ... They are independent."

Some opinion polls suggest a tight r ace and some have suggested that Erdogan's AK Party might not achieve a parliamentary majority, but Kalin says there is no doubt about the election outcome.

"I think most of the criticism that you get from some western media outlets and commentators is based on a total misreading of the political realities in Turkey ... Erdogan has entered almost 14 or 15 general, local elections and referendums over the last 14, 15 years and he has won every single one of them," he says.

"The vote on Sunday is not going to be any different according to the polls and to what we see on the ground ... We see the crowds on the streets, and their aspirations and their expectations from the government and from the leadership - it's very clear that he is set to win this election as well."

"Just because he keeps winning, it doesn't make him an authoritarian person."

On this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera,Temel Karamollaogl u, the leader of the Saadet Party, and Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, discuss Turkey's upcoming election, Erdogan's foreign policies and challenges facing the country.

Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesperson (right) talks to Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal (left) [Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera News

Source: Google News Turkey | Netizen 24 Turkey

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By On June 24, 2018

Voters rally behind ErdoÄŸan's rival as Turkey goes to the polls

Voters rally behind Erdoğan’s rival as Turkey goes to the polls Recep Tayyip Erdoğan The Observer Voters rally behind Erdoğan’s rival as Turkey goes to the polls

The CHP’s popular Muharrem İnce could be a real threat to the long-term leader in Sunday’s elections

Supporters of Muharrem İnce, presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition CHP, hold a giant Turkish flag during an election rally in Ankara on 22 June.
Supporters of Muharrem İnce, presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition CHP, hold a giant Turkish flag during an election rally in Ankara on 22 June. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/ Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish voters turned out on to the streets and squares of Istanbul on Saturday for a final day of rallies ahead of crucial presidential and parliamentary elections taking place on Sunday.

In a remarkable display of his growing popularity, opposition candidate Muharrem Ä°nce drew at least a million people to a rally in the Maltepe district of the city, where he urged voters to end 16 years of rule by President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan and his Justice and Development (AK) party.

“We will embrace everyone,” he said, as supporters in festive mood sang anthems and waved red-and-white Turkish flags. “Turkey’s hopes will be revived. This is going to be a united Turkey.”

Ä°nce, the candidate of the secularist opposition party known as CHP, has emerged as the most charismatic challenger to ErdoÄŸan, and may push the president into a second-round contest.

An affable physics teacher and veteran CHP MP from the city of Yalova, he has criss-crossed the country marshalling votes and seeking a united front against the incumbent. He has pledged to roll back presidential powers, restore the rule of law in Turkey and end prosecutions of dissidents and journalists.

But Erdoğan, 64, who has ruled the country since 2002, first as prime minister then as president, has persevered in his usual bombastic style, ending his campaign yesterday with no fewer than five rallies. In Istanbul’s Esenyurt district, he told tens of thousands of supporters Turkey would go on “to achieve what others cannot imagine”, if they re-elected him once again.

ErdoÄŸan called snap elections in April, a year and a half ahead of schedule, despite repeated denials by his party that such a plan was under consideration. He said regional instability made early elections imperative. But critics said ErdoÄŸan was hoping to preempt an economic slump that had already been hinted at with the collaps e of the Turkish lira against the dollar and a widening foreign trade deficit, and to limit and weaken the possible field of rivals.

Whoever wins the presidential election will assume extraordinary new powers, narrowly approved in a referendum last year that was marred with allegations of fraud. Those include the ability to appoint the cabinet and unelected vice-presidents, as well as senior judges, the power to issue decrees with the force of law and with limited parliamentary oversight.

The ‘affable physics teacher’ İnce has emerged as a charismatic and popular rival to the president. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
The ‘affable physics teacher’ İnce has emerged as a charismatic and popular rival to the president . Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

In the parliamentary race, the AK party has formed an alliance with the nationalist party, the MHP, led by the septuagenarian Devlet Bahçeli. It faces an opposition grand coalition that includes the secularists of the CHP, the nationalists of the Iyi party led by Meral Akşener, and the Saadet party’s Islamists. The pro-Kurdish HDP is running independently without being part of a coalition but has indicated it would back the opposition candidate that makes it to the second round against Erdoğan.

The result of this dynamic campaign has been a far more interesting race than predicted when the snap polls were called, and has raised the distinct possibility that Erdoğan’s AK party may lose its parliamentary majority, even if the president is still the favourite to win.

Public opinion polls are notoriously unreliable in Turkey. Nevertheless on average they appear to show ErdoÄŸan securing a comforta ble victory in the first round of the presidentials, but without an outright majority. A much tighter race is predicted between him and Ä°nce in a second round on 8 July.

Erdoğan faces a varied and convincing line-up of opponents, but İnce has proved the most threatening. In a month and a half he held 107 rallies in 65 cities, a whirlwind campaign that energised an opposition movement that few predicted would mount a credible challenge against Erdoğan. Last week he drew crowds of hundreds of thousands in the secular bastion of İzmir and in the capital, Ankara. He promised to end the state of emergency in place since the 2016 coup attempt, to continue “without mercy” the fight against terror groups, and to “unite Turkey”.

Ä°nce has broached many red lines for hardline secularists, visiting the imprisoned HDP leader Selahattin DemirtaÅŸ and demanding his release, as well as backing a parliamentary debate on resolving the Kurdish issue.

He has also sig nalled his own religious piety and is a regular attendant at weekly Friday prayers, in a nod to Erdoğan’s religious base that is suspicious of secularists. At the end of his rally yesterday, he brought his headscarfed mother onto the stage, to loud cheers from supporters bearing flags of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secular founder of the republic who abolished the Islamic caliphate.

“Headscarf or not, man or woman, partisan or not, we will not discriminate against anyone,” he said. “You can wear your headscarf wherever you want.”

İnce has sought to position himself as a democrat and populist, vowing to close down the opulent presidential palace in Ankara and turn it into an education centre, to end the state of emergency within two days of his victory, to restore the independence of the judiciary and to continue with determination the fight against terror groups. In a nativist nod, he pledged to restore diplomatic relations with the regime of Bashar al-Assa d in Syria, in order to pave the way for the return of Syrian refugees to their country. There are more than 3 million displaced Syrians in Turkey.Some will support Erdogan for his crushing of the separatist insurgency in the Kurdish region, and his success in pushing the militants away from the Turkish border with Syria. Others are unnerved by his alliance with nationalists and their hardline approach to the Kurdish issue, as well as his recent military foray into Syria’s Kurdish region of Afrin.

Hundreds of HDP cadres, including MPs and the former chiefs of the party, mayors and activists have been detained in a wide-ranging crackdown, and many Kurdish news outlets have been shut down in the interim.

Erdogan appears to be concerned over the loss of votes to the HDP. In a video recorded surreptitiously during a meeting with prospective voters, he urged them to do “special work” to limit the HDP’s performance, in what was interpreted by some as a call urging fr aud or intimidation.

The assault on human rights has been a backdrop for much of Turkish politics over the last two years, since a traumatic coup attempt in 2016 in which 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded. The government instituted a state of emergency and pursued members of the movement of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled preacher and former ally of Erdogan, whose followers are widely believed to have orchestrated the failed putsch.

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  • Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan
  • The Observer
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Source: Google News Turkey | Netizen 24 Turkey

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By On June 24, 2018

Turkey elections: Erdogan faces tough challenge as country votes

  1. Turkey elections: Erdogan faces tough challenge as country votes CNN
  2. Polls open in Turkey's high-stakes elections CNBC
  3. The Latest: Monitors criticize Turkey for blocking 2 members Kansas City Star
  4. Erdogan seeks to cement power in Turkey's high-stakes votes Sacramento Bee
  5. Turkey Elections 2018: All the latest updates Aljazeera.com
  6. Full coverage
Source: Google News Turkey | Netizen 24 Turkey

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By On June 23, 2018

Fighter Sale to Turkey Could Pit Trump Against Congress

Report

Fighter Sale to Turkey Could Pit Trump Against Congress

A battle is brewing over the transfer of F-35 fighter jets.

By Lara Seligman, Robbie Gramer |
An F-35 fighter jet on display at a roll-out ceremony for Turkey's F-35s in Forth Worth, Texas on June 21. (Lockheed Martin) An F-35 fighter jet on display at a roll-out ceremony for Turkey's F-35s in Forth Worth, Texas on June 21. (Lockheed Martin)

Lara Seligman is Foreign Policy's Pentagon correspondent.

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. @robbiegramer

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