Erdoğan’s rival in 2018 presidential election to launch new party

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top rival in Turkey’s 2018 election said on Monday he would quit the main opposition party and establish his own movement, Agence France-Presse reported.

Muharrem İnce, a former Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, picked up 30.6 percent of the vote in the last presidential election behind Erdoğan, who garnered 52.6 percent.

İnce was a combative force during the campaign, building up solid support despite Erdoğan and his ruling party’s alliance partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), announcing the vote just months in advance.

Since then, İnce has stayed in the limelight and brandished his secular, nationalist credentials in a nationwide tour dubbed the “Motherland movement in 1,000 days” in 2020.

“I am taking a different path,” İnce told reporters in Ankara in front of an image of modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Atatürk was also the founder of the CHP, but some within the party have rebelled against its current leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

They include three former CHP deputies who resigned from the party last month, expressing displeasure with its direction.

They are expected to join Ince’s new party, and he implied there could be others.

İnce promised to unveil the name and logo of his new party “soon.”

“We’re going to present an opportunity for Turkey, a way out, a choice. We’re going to create a free Turkey,” Ince said in a fiery performance.

He took aim at the CHP and its leadership, criticizing the party’s objections to Turkey’s actions in the region and its backing of Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

İnce appeared to indicate he would run for the presidency again, insisting he would get “50 percent plus one” of the vote, which is the margin needed to become president in the first round.

The next presidential election is expected in June 2023.

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