Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has refused to appear on TV for a debate with Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce ahead of a presidential election on June 24, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
“He shamelessly invites me on TV. He will get ratings thanks to me. Why should I talk to him?” Erdoğan said during a Sunday evening program on Kanal 7.
İnce has been calling on Erdoğan for a debate on whatever TV channel he prefers.
“He can have his teleprompter, too,” İnce said, referring to the fact that Erdoğan always uses teleprompters for speeches.
Turkey saw debates between political leaders before elections during the 1980s and ’90s. The last political debate on TV was between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then-CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal before the general election of 2002. Erdoğan has refused to appear in TV debates with political party leaders since he took power in 2002.
Rebuffing Erdoğan’s statement, İnce on Sunday reiterated his call for a TV debate.
“I appeared on a TV program on CNN Türk, so Erdoğan did. We checked the ratings. Erdoğan had 14, I had 44. Even the weather forecast had higher ratings than Erdoğan.”
“I will contribute to your ratings. You attracted only one-quarter of the audience I did. Come on live TV with me so that you will gain some popularity.”