Leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who was defeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a presidential election last month, has said the result of the election has “no moral legitimacy” because Erdoğan conducted an election campaign based on lies and slander, the Halk TV news website reported.
“The YSK [the Supreme Election Board] has confirmed the election result, but it has no moral legitimacy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his first interview following the runoff election held on May 28, speaking to journalist Fikret Bila from Halk TV.
The YSK announced the official results of the runoff election on Thursday, which showed Erdoğan receiving 52.18 percent of the nationwide vote, while Kılıçdaroğlu garnered 47.82 percent.
Turkey held parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14. While Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the majority of seats in parliament, a runoff election had to be held two weeks later because neither of the candidates managed to surpass the 50 percent threshold required for an outright victory.
Kılıçdaroğlu said Erdoğan and his ruling AKP’s election campaign was based on lies, slander and doctored videos, accusing Erdoğan of lying to the people.
“Can there be a president who lies to his people? The government and their election campaign should be questioned in this regard,” said Kılıçdaorğlu.
He was referring to a doctored video used by Erdoğan at an election rally in İstanbul on May 7 which showed senior members of a terrorist organization, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), supporting Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential candidacy.
In the video, which begins with Kılıçdaroğlu singing the opposition’s election song, Murat Karayılan, a senior PKK leader, was also seen singing the same song while clapping his hands.
Erdoğan and party officials constantly accused Kılıçdaroğlu and the opposition bloc of parties that nominated him of collaborating with the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.
Although Erdoğan admitted during a TV interview on May 22 that the video was fake, he continued to repeat his accusations linking the opposition with the PKK.
“Fake or not, PKK members supported [the opposition] with videos,” he said, which brought him angry reactions and harsh criticism from his opponents and Kılıçdaroğlu.
Kılıçdaroğlu said politicians could exaggerate things about each other but that there is no place for lies, slander and fraud in politics.
He also accused the AKP of granting citizenship to foreigners to get their vote in the elections.
Interviews aired by some TV stations on election day showed that some voters could not even speak Turkish.
There are more than 3.5 million refugees in Turkey, according to official figures, most of whom are Syrians who fled the civil war in their country and have taken refuge in neighboring Turkey.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced in December 2022 that the number of Syrians who obtained Turkish citizenship was 223,881, although opponents say it is much higher and could have provided an advantage to Erdoğan and his party in the elections.
“We have seen who they allowed to vote in the elections. They [the AKP] has created ‘imported’ voters. We have seen foreigners who can’t speak Turkish casting votes. This should also be questioned from a moral perspective,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, who made sending Syrian refugees back to their homeland a central theme of his election campaign.
As to whether he will resign from the position of CHP chairman following his election defeat, Kılıçdaroğlu said a decision would be made by his party following intra-party talks and assessments.