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Islamist opposition party leader says he rejected Erdoğan’s offer to form alliance

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Temel Karamollaoğlu, leader of the Islamist opposition Felicity Party, has said he turned down an offer from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to form an alliance for the 2023 elections, the Sözcü daily reported.

Karamollaoğlu recently met with Erdoğan at his palace in Ankara. The meeting, which was closed to the press and lasted for nearly two-and-a-half hours, was said to have taken place as part of Erdoğan’s efforts to form new alliances ahead of the 2023 elections because his Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s nationwide support has dropped more than 10 percent since the last general election in 2018, according to recent surveys.

Karamollaoğlu spoke to the Sözcü daily in remarks published on Sunday about his meeting with Erdoğan and said Erdoğan told him, “We should be together”; however, he said it was impossible for his party to give support to an unchecked presidential system.

Through a referendum in April 2017, Turkey switched from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidential system that granted Erdoğan and his AKP sweeping powers and was criticized for removing constitutional checks and balances, thus leading to a further weakening of Turkish democracy.

Erdoğan was re-elected president under the new system in 2018.

Local media reports say the Public Alliance, formed by the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has been looking for new partners since their combined support fell below 50 percent, which is necessary for securing victory in a presidential election, in 2023.

Erdoğan’s plans to include the SP in the Public Alliance received a blow when Oğuzhan Asiltürk, a senior SP official who green-lighted cooperation with Erdoğan, contrary to the stance of the top management of the party, died of coronavirus in October.

Asiltürk, who was the head of the SP’s High Advisory Board (YİK), came to public attention earlier this year when Erdoğan visited him at his Ankara home in January and then hosted him in late April at an iftar dinner at the presidential palace, with both meetings signaling the AKP government’s eagerness to work with the Islamist party.

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