Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey’s main opposition leader and a presidential candidate, has called on his supporters not to go out to celebrate his possible victory on the night of the May 14 elections, warning against provocations.
“Nobody should go out into the streets when we win the election that night. Nobody should celebrate. Everyone should stay home. The numbers will become clear the next morning, and the YSK [Supreme Board of Elections] will have to give me the mandate,” Kılıçdaroğlu said Thursday evening on KRT TV.
He said when people go out to celebrate, there could be some disturbances, some people could be provoked and armed groups could be around.
“We need to create an environment that won’t let this happen,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the joint presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of parties, is the main rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential election on May 14, when Turkey will also hold parliamentary elections.
Erdoğan, who has been in power for 20 years, is facing his toughest challenge yet, as opinion polls show him neck-and-neck with Kılıçdaroğlu or losing to him.
There are widespread concerns that Erdoğan fanatics could take to the streets and get violent in the event of a Kılıçdaroğlu victory.
Some members of Erdoğan’s government see the elections as a matter of life and death.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu attracted condemnation when he recently likened the May 14 elections to a coup attempt.
Soylu said the elections were similar to an abortive putsch that took place on July 15, 2016 and described it as “another coup attempt.”
“July 15 was an attempted coup, and May 14 is a political coup attempt. It’s very clear that the West is part of this coup. They [the West and its allies in Turkey] want to leave Turkey powerless and take over the country,” he said.
As the coup attempt was unfolding on the night of July 15, 2016, Erdoğan in a video call with a journalist called the people to take to the streets and fight against the putschists. A total of 251 people were killed that night and a thousand were injured. The coup attempt was suppressed overnight.