Erdogan warns faithful supporters of reprisals if the opposition wins the elections

ZTwo days before the presidential elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned devout supporters of reprisals should his secular-leaning challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu come to power. “You will pay a high price if we lose,” Erdoğan told a flag-waving crowd at a campaign rally in a conservative Istanbul district on Friday. Meanwhile, at a campaign event in Ankara, Kılıçdaroğlu announced that he wanted to bring “democracy” and “peace” to Turkey.

Erdoğan warned that the opposition alliance Kılıçdaroğlu was driven by “revenge and greed”. The president accused the West of using the opposition as an instrument in order to impose its will on Turkish society.

For the head of the Islamic conservative party AKP, who has been in power for 20 years, things could get tight on Sunday. According to most polls, his social democratic opponent Kılıçdaroğlu, with his alliance of six opposition parties, is ahead. In addition, the withdrawal of the secular nationalist candidate and Erdoğan adversary Muharrem İnce from the race on Thursday may have further increased the opposition’s chances.

Opposition candidate wears bulletproof vest

Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP party said its candidate had received death threats and was wearing a bulletproof vest during campaign appearances on Friday. During an unusually brief appearance in Ankara, he told thousands of supporters: “Are you ready to bring democracy to this country? to bring peace to this country? I promise you, I’m ready too.”

The opposition candidate has announced that if he is elected, he intends to abolish the presidential system introduced by Erdoğan. Among other things, parliament is to elect the head of government again in the future. For this to happen, however, the opposition would also have to win the parliamentary elections that are taking place at the same time.

Erdoğan had admitted in another appearance this week that it was difficult for him to win over young voters: “There is a generation in our country that has not experienced any of the difficulties that we had,” he said with a look to the economic problems of the 1990s. And it is not easy “to convey our values ​​to this new generation”.

When asked about his forecast for the outcome of the election, Erdoğan, whom his supporters admire for his charisma, was unusually cautious in an interview with a TV station: “The ballot boxes will show us on Sunday.”

Turkey will elect a new president and parliament on Sunday. Around 64.3 million Turks – including six million first-time voters – are called upon to vote. Whoever gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the first ballot becomes the new president. If none of the candidates can do this, the two best-placed candidates will compete against each other in a run-off two weeks later.

Erdoğan on Friday defended Russian President Vladimir Putin against allegations of Russian election interference. Kılıçdaroğlu had accused Russian actors of spreading disinformation in order to influence the outcome of the election. “If you attack Putin, I will not agree,” said Erdoğan. “Our relations with Russia are no less important than those with the United States,” added the Turkish president.

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