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Turkey’s presidential candidate steps down to give Erdogan’s main challenger a boost

Turkey’s presidential candidate steps down to give Erdogan’s main challenger a boost


ANKARA, Türkiye (AP) A candidate in The presidential election in Türkiye announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing from the race, a move that should strengthen President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main challenger.

Muharrem Ince, leader of the centre-left Homeland Party, was one of four candidates in the May 14 presidential election. Turkey will also hold parliamentary elections at the same time.

Ince had come under heavy criticism for splitting the votes of the six-party National Alliance, which united behind the candidacy of main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and for possibly forcing the race presidential in a second round.

I am withdrawing from the race, Ince told reporters outside his party headquarters. I do this for my country.

Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey as prime minister and president since 2003, faces the toughest election in his 20-year rule. The polls had given Kilicdaroglu a slight lead over Erdogan, although none of the candidates had to garner more than 50% of the votes required to be elected in the first round.

Ince had garnered around 8% of the vote when his candidacy was first announced, but his approval rating has since dropped to around 2%, according to opinion polls.

The incendiary politician did not say he was giving up in favor of Kilicdaroglu, but analysts say his withdrawal will likely benefit the National Alliance.

Nation Alliance members welcomed Ince’s decision to step down.

God willing, our nation will take the necessary steps in the coming days for us (to pass) the first round, said Gultekin Uysal, leader of the center-right Democratic Party.

Ince, however, said the Fatherland Party, which he formed in 2021, would still run for parliament, and he called for voting for the party in every household.

The 58-year-old former physics professor previously ran against Erdogan in the 2018 presidential elections under the ticket of Kilicdaroglu’s main opposition party, the CHP. He had won around 30% of the vote, but then split from the party.

They will have no excuse if they lose the election, Ince said, in an apparent reference to Kilicdaroglu.




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