Main opposition bloc Nation Alliance leaders hold joint rally in İzmir
Turkey’s main opposition bloc Nation Alliance leaders have held a joint rally as part of their election campaign in the western İzmir province. CHP mayors İmamoğlu and Yavaş also took the stage during the rally in which hundreds of thousands people attended.
The leaders of the main opposition bloc Nation Alliance on April 30 held a joint rally in the western province of İzmir, the heartland of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
In the rally, joint presidential candidate and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, Democrat Party (DP) leader Gültekin Uysal, Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party leader Ali Babacan, and Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu took the stage, as well as CHP mayors Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş.
Other five leaders from different ideological backgrounds in the alliance as well as İmamoğlu and Yavaş will be vice presidents should Kılıçdaroğlu assume power in the May 14 election.
The leaders arrived in the Gündoğdu Square by a ferry to speak to hundreds of thousands of people in the third biggest city of Turkey.
The audience made a heart sign together with their hands, which became a symbol of Kılıçdaroğlu during this electoral campaign.
Among the leaders, Islamist Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu was the first one who took the stage.
“We have to establish facilities that include high technology throughout our country, enrich us and give us the opportunity to export. We have to govern our country with industrial facilities and high technology products. Not a single person will be unemployed, everyone will have a sufficient income,” the 81-year-old leader said.
After Karamollaoğlu, CHP Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş took the stage.
Yavaş said “After 21 years (of the AKP government), they are constantly accusing us of something because they have nothing to say anymore. They say, 'If we lose, there will be a coup.' We are in the election so that you would lose! They say ‘You can enter the election, but you cannot win!’ People no longer accept such threatening speeches,” Yavaş said, referring to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s remarks.
On April 27, Soylu referred to the upcoming elections as the “West’s political coup attempt.”
Yavaş added that they will end the hate speech and polarizing rhetoric of the AKP executives.
After Yavaş, CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu took the stage.
İmamoğlu said “The Nation Alliance is following the path of the republic. This path promises us all a magnificent period at the beginning of the second century (of the Republic of Turkey). The Nation Alliance is the common mind, common spirit and unity of this nation. This unity of six leaders is magnificent. One of the most important achievements of this alliance is Istanbul. We won together (in the local elections in 2019).”
“Don't be fooled by the demagogic remarks. Do not forget that the strong cadres of the Nation Alliance and the social power behind it will win elections for our 86 million people. If they win the election, it is the national will, if the Nation Alliance wins, it is a coup. Huh! We are winning, the people of İzmir, 86 million of our people are winning. The power of 86 million is coming, a handful of people are losing,” he added.
After İmamoğlu, DEVA Party leader Ali Babacan took the stage. After resigning from the AKP in 2019, he founded DEVA in a move to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule. He presided over Turkey’s economy from 2009 to 2015 as a senior executive from the ruling AKP
Babacan said the May 14 elections is actually a referendum. “We have two choices before us: authoritarianism or democracy? Arbitrariness or law? Oppression or freedom? Single mind or collective mind? Fear or hope? Anger or love? Crisis or law? Poverty or wealth? Winter or spring?”
Babacan said Turkey has not been following the world. “In 2003, Sertap Erener made us feel very proud (in the Eurovision). Do you remember those days? We will succeed again. We saw Madonna, Metallica, Roger Waters, Rihanna, Rammstein, and U2 in our own country. All of them came to Turkey. We will listen to them again inshallah.”
After Babacan, Democrat Party leader Gültekin Uysal took the stage. “(The AKP) asked for authority, power, absolute power. It was not enough for them. They said that what is spilled from our tongue should be the law. They passed it with a questionable referendum (in 2017),” Uysal said, adding that the economy has been shrinking since then.
“They are still making promises to the nation. What a shame,” he added.
After him, Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu took the stage, who made the longest speech of the day for almost half an hour. Davutoğlu, who served as the prime minister between 2014 and 2016 from the AKP, ended his party membership in 2019. He founded the Future Party in the same year.
In his speech Davutoğlu listed the principles of the Alliance. "Democracy, freedom, and human rights. We will expand the freedom of rights. No one will be marginalized. Justice. We will transform the judicial mechanism, which is guided by instructions, into an independent system. A decent standard of living and an economy. This order, the freak presidential system, has donated state resources to their close circles and has made the poor poorer. Political ethics, clean politics. Corruption prevails in Turkey, no one is held accountable. We will raise the State of the Republic of Turkey with all its institutions. Lastly, an honorable country open to the world."
After him, the only women leader in the alliance, Good Party Chair Meral Akşener, took the stage.
“On the evening of May 14, we will elect Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the 13th President and we will graciously retire Mr. Erdoğan and his friends,” she said.
The 66-year-old leader added that she wants one vote from each family. “Because I'm the most bullied ever. I was called a 'slut', I was accused of cheating my husband. I want one vote from each family. I want it for my morale, I want it for my family, I want it for my grandchild.”
The main opposition bloc will enter the May 14 parliamentary election under the CHP and İYİ Party lists. The other four parties nominated 71 deputy candidates from the main opposition CHP list in a move to be advantageous under Turkey’s electoral system.
Lastly, presidential candidate Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage.
The 74-year-old leader said “Together, we will be able to pull Turkey out of this situation. We will do it together, we will fight together, we will go to the polls together and we will enlight Turkey.”
“I promise as Mr. Kemal. I will break down all obstacles and bring Turkey to the light. There will be justice for all. We will hug 85 million of citizens whether they voted for me or not. Whoever has been wronged, everyone can be sure that Mr. Kemal will be by their side. No one should worry,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu pointed out that this election is “to rebuild democracy, to build a beautiful Turkey where no child will go to bed hungry, to ensure equality between men and women, not to leave but to embrace, not to fight but to make peace.”
“Approximately 5.3 million young people will vote for the first time. They will make a note in history. They will tell their children in later ages: 'There was an authoritarian government in Turkey. Even when we were tweeting, our fathers and mothers would warn us to not get in trouble. I went to the polls on May 14 and voted to bring democracy to this country. I changed an authoritarian government and really built a democratic government.’,” he added.
After reading a banner from the audience that reads “One Kemal (Atatürk) founded Turkey, the first century began. One Kemal has come, the second century is beginning,” Kılıçdaroğlu said “In the second century of the republic, we will crown our republic with democracy. All I ask of you is to go to the ballot box, and convince a friend or relative who voted for the AKP and MHP in the last elections.”
Erdoğan’s main rival also reminded his pledges after assuming power. “No child will go to bed hungry. Believe me, there will be peace and abundance in every house. We will work, produce and win for the people, with the people. We will bring peace and prosperity to this beautiful country,” he lastly added.
Kılıçdaroğlu is regarded as the exact opposite of Erdoğan in terms of characteristics. He has adopted a hopeful, confident and positive rhetoric to challenge Erdoğan’s polarizing and discriminatory language.
The Nation Alliance leaders have officially met for 15 times since February 2022, under Kılıçdaroğlu's leadership, and prepared a constitution draft, offering strengthened parliamentary system instead of today's hyper-presidential regime.