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Turkey’s opposition warns runoff election ‘last chance’ before democratic, economic collapse

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Two days before a critical runoff election when the country’s next president will be elected, opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the public that it is their last chance on Sunday to save the country from undergoing an economic and democratic collapse under another term in office of Erdoğan.

Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, main opposition leader and the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance, both failed on May 14 presidential election to surpass the 50 percent threshold and will compete in a runoff on Sunday, when the candidate receiving the highest percentage of the nationwide vote will be elected president. Erdoğan received 49.5 percent of the vote, while Kılıçdaroğlu garnered 44.8 percent on May 14.

In a tweet from his account, managed by his lawyers, jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş has once again endorsed the presidential candidacy of Kılıçdaroğlu, warning about the serious consequences if Erdoğan remains in power for another five years.

“If change does not come out of the ballot box, there will be a disaster in the economy and democracy. There will be a no third round, either. Let’s make Mr Kılıçdaroğlu president. Let’s let Turkey take a breath,” Demirtaş tweeted, urging people to vote.

In addition to Demirtaş, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is also supporting Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy in a bid to increase his chances of unseating Erdoğan, who is accused by the opposition and his critics of establishing a one-man rule in the country.

Gelecek (Future) Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu, a former Erdoğan ally, also issued a warning about the possible consequences in the event of an Erdoğan victory on Sunday, saying that if Erdoğan wins, it will not be only him who will rule the country but “all the dirty actors of the 1990s.”

Davutoğlu was referring to alliances Erdoğan has broken with some controversial ultranationalist and radical figures and parties that are suspected of being behind extrajudicial killings and assassinations in the country in 1990s.

One of the Erdoğan’s such allies is the controversial Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), which secured four seats in parliament in the elections, having been elected from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate lists. HÜDA-PAR has alleged ties to an extremist militant group called Hizbullah, accused of kidnappings, torture and targeted assassinations, predominantly aimed at individuals linked with Kurdish political movements.

Ali Babacan, leader of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), appealed to the voters of Erdoğan’s AKP in a tweet on Friday. He said as an AKP co-founder, he does not think Erdoğan is the same one he knew 22 years ago when they founded the party. He accused the president of using his position to obtain wealth for his family and people close to him while Turks are struggling to make a living amid a high cost of living in the country.

He said the rule of law and freedoms have been significantly eroded under Erdoğan’s rule.

Babacan said unlike Erdoğan, if Kılıçdaroğlu is elected president, people will be able to criticize him without fear of being sentenced to prison.

“We will build a Turkey where everyone will be able to express their views freely,” said Babacan, calling on the AKP supporters to back Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy for a Turkey where people enjoy the rule of law and live in a welfare state.

Erdoğan’s popularity has suffered mainly due to the erosion of the standard of living caused by depreciation of the Turkish lira and runaway inflation, which rose to more than 85 percent last year.

Erdoğan is harshly 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.

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