“Ninety-nine percent of this town is Muslim. How could anybody vote for the [Republican People’s Party] CHP?” asked İbrahim Sayın, a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official in the Akhisar district of Manisa province during a rally ahead of local elections.
Sayın’s remarks were applauded by the crowd.
AKP officials have been using this rhetoric extensively during election campaigns, identifying themselves as the representatives of the Muslim majority while stigmatizing the main opposition CHP as distanced from Islam.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also accusing opposition parties of being “ordered by terrorist groups” in order to consolidate the support of his grass roots.
Turkey will hold local elections on March 31, five years after the last polls. While an opposition alliance expects to win in İstanbul and Ankara, Erdoğan’s party aims to maintain its domination through an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).