Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned opposition parties that they will face a response similar to the one given to coup plotters on the night of an abortive putsch in 2016 if they take to the streets in protest of the government, Turkish media outlets reported.
The president, who was speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Tuesday, voiced dissatisfaction with the growing criticism of his government from opposition parties in the wake of an economic crisis in the country.
Erdoğan accused the opposition parties of being in touch with people only in the run-up to elections to get their votes and then forgetting them, while praising his party for always being in close contact with the people, listening to their problems and finding solutions.
“They are saying they will take to the streets. Didn’t you see [what happened] on July 15? No matter where you go, just as this nation taught a lesson to the coup plotters on July 15, we will do the same to you,” said Erdoğan.
“As the Public Alliance, we will chase you down wherever you go,” he said, adding that they know very well how to speak to people who don’t understand the “language of the heart.”
The Public Alliance refers to an election alliance between the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The Turkish president has been unsettled by the opposition parties, who are demanding he call early elections due to the historic depreciation of the Turkish lira and a record level of inflation.
Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.
Critics say the diminishing support for Erdoğan’s government has reinvigorated the opposition, giving it the initiative to lead the political debate rather than reacting to Erdoğan’s maneuvers as they once did.