İnce withdraws from presidential race three days left to elections, does not endorse any candidates

Homeland Party leader Muharrem İnce has announced that he withdrew from the presidential election which is scheduled for May 14. In his speech, İnce has not endorsed any candidates and argued that he is withdrawing so that the main opposition will have no excuses when they lose the elections.

Duvar English

Homeland Party chair Muharrem İnce on May 11 announced that he withdrew from the presidential race. İnce’s name will still appear on the ballot paper on May 14 and his votes will not be counted as invalid.

Speaking in front of his party’s headquarters in the capital Ankara, İnce said he is withdrawing from the presidential election so that “(the main opposition) will have no excuses when they lose the elections.”

“What I have seen in the last 45 days, I have not seen in the last 45 years. Fake receipts, fake images... Someone took an image from an Israeli porn site and montaged my head, this is done by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) members. 45 days of reputation assassination… The police have not found who did it, the prosecutor has not done their duty, the journalists have not written about it,” İnce said.

“We will enter the Parliament on Sunday (May 14). The Homeland Party must be in the Parliament. There will be the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Felicity Party… Atatürkists (Kemalist-nationalists) will be in the minority. Turkey's insurance is the Homeland Party. I want one vote from each house,” he added.

He said he wanted to offer a third option for the voters that is neither the government nor the opposition, and that “we could not succeed.” Some pollsters lately suggested that İnce would receive less than 4% of the votes. Most of his supporters are expected to vote for main opposition Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu if they go to the polls.

İnce also denied the allegations that he received money from the AKP so that he would stay in the race to divide Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s vote share, and said “I am calling out to those who say that these slanders that I have taken money from the palace, and cannot withdraw. I'm withdrawing my candidacy. I am doing this for my country and so that (the main opposition) will have no excuses when they lose the elections”

İnce’s withdrawal came following allegations that a sex tape leaked on the internet belonged to him.

After this allegation, Kılıçdaroğlu said “Those who do this are blackmailers. It is necessary to remove them from politics and society. I want to make it clear here that we are always open to him. If he wants to join us, let's bring change together. Let's clean up this mess together from politics.”

However, İnce has not endorsed any of the candidates in his speech. There have remained three candidates running for the presidential election: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and far-right ATA Alliance’s candidate Sinan Oğan.

Since İnce announced that he would run for the office, he was severely accused of receiving money from the AKP to divide Kılıçdaroğlu’s vote share. 

After he insisted on running for the office, several Homeland Party deputy candidates and provincial members have resigned or withdrawn in a move to support Kılıçdaroğlu's candidacy.

In the 2018 elections, İnce had run as the main opposition CHP's presidential candidate and received 30 percent of the votes.

After losing the 2018 presidential elections to Erdoğan, İnce's relationship with the CHP began to deteriorate. In 2021, he resigned from the party in order to found his "Homeland Movement." In the same year, he and several former CHP members formed the Homeland Party as an alternative "Kemalist" party.