Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Monday conceded defeat in the June 24 presidential election, denying social media rumors that he was “threatened” by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“Nobody threatened me and nobody can. Rumors saying I went to the palace and spoke to Erdoğan are all wrong. It is wrong to spread such unfounded rumors,” İnce said at a press conference at CHP headquarters in Ankara on Monday.
When asked why he waited for hours to speak publicly, he said he was waiting for the “final results as it was still possible that Erdoğan’s support could go below 50 percent.”
“Did they steal votes? Yes, they did. But did they steal 10 million votes? No,” İnce added, stating that Erdoğan’s victory margin was so wide that it “cannot be explained merely by election irregularities.”
“There is no big gap between the Supreme Election Board [YSK] data and the data that we collected ourselves. The difference is not big enough to change the outcome,” he said.
However, İnce stressed that there were “some issues” with the election process that demand an explanation, such as the fact that Erdoğan scored even higher than in the controversial April 2017 referendum in which Turks narrowly approved a shift to the presidential system.
İnce also addressed Erdoğan directly and called on him to be “the president of everyone,” instead of acting as the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The CHP candidate refused to answer questions about the future of his party but did stress that he got 30 percent of the vote, a feat that the main opposition party has not been able to achieve since 1977.
“If other opposition parties could have scored a little higher, the election would have gone to a second round,” he said.
“The CHP also made mistakes, but I won’t speak about them in front of the media,” İnce added, noting that he would soon meet with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to evaluate the results.
The news of İnce’s acceptance of the election results was broken by journalist İsmail Küçükkaya after receiving a WhatsApp message from İnce conceding that Erdoğan had won. İnce criticized the journalist, saying it was a message between friends. Küçükkaya defended himself on Twitter, stating that İnce should have warned him the message was off the record.