Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Saturday held the first of a series of public rallies aimed at pushing for early elections, local media reported.
The rally in the southern province of Mersin started with attendees making speeches in which they related such common financial difficulties facing Turks as low purchasing power caused by a plunge in the value of the lira and double-digit inflation, and unemployment.
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Following the speeches Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage, giving messages of hope and vowing to solve all their problems when his party comes to power in the next elections.
“Just now, my brothers spoke, and I watched them with a broken heart. Does the Turkey of the 21st century deserve this situation? If even those who graduated from two universities are unemployed, who is responsible for this shame? [But] there’s no room for despair, I will solve all those problems,” the CHP leader said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also promised to provide university students affordable accommodation, appoint unemployed teachers and healthcare workers to jobs and reinstate the Istanbul Convention, among other things.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan early in 2020 withdrew Turkey from the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies, despite high statistics of violence targeting women in the country and drawing condemnation from Turks and the international community.
“There’ll be no poverty in this country. I promise this to the people of Mersin. I promise this to the people of Turkey. I will end this order in which some collect salaries from four, five or six places while millions of our young people are unemployed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader Erdoğan are widely criticized by the opposition for getting its cronies paid several salaries, a practice that has sparked public outrage amid the country’s struggling economy.
The CHP leader also criticized the AKP’s monetary policies, saying they had wasted the lira. He further promised to “return the lira to the place it deserves.”
The Turkish currency, which lost 30 percent of its value against the US dollar in November alone, has lost more than 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year.
The rapid slide ushered in a rare intervention by Turkey’s central bank, a wave of dollar hoarding, and even witnessed the unusual sight of people taking to the streets to protest President Erdoğan’s poor handling of the economy.
In late November Erdoğan once again rejected calls from opposition parties to hold early elections, saying the elections will be held in June 2023 as scheduled.