Three months after joint opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was defeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a runoff election, the leader of a nationalist party voiced regret for not having done more to prevent his candidacy, the T24 news website reported.
İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, who spoke at a party meeting over the weekend in the western province of Afyonkarahisar, talked about the three-month period following the election and the opposition’s defeat.
Akşener’s party was part of a six-party opposition alliance that nominated main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu as their joint candidate.
Akşener said she apologizes to everyone for not making the candidacy of two other popular candidates possible. She said she did not see that the real problem was in the opposition.
She was referring to the possible nomination of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu or Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş as presidential candidates since opinion polls prior to the election in May showed them as enjoying more popularity than Kılıçdaroğlu.
The İYİ Party leader supported the candidacy of İmamoğlu, who she thought had a better chance of ending the two-decades-long rule of Erdoğan. Akşener even briefly left the opposition bloc, known as the “Table of Six,” claiming that Kılıçdaroğlu was imposing his candidacy on the bloc.
She returned to the group after facing harsh criticism for breaking the alliance and giving Erdoğan a chance to win election again.
Akşener took a step back and publicly endorsed Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy.
Kılıçdaroğlu refused to comment on Akşener’s statements, saying that it would be impolite to do so. He said it would not be right to perpetuate resentment and anger over the election result.
Erdoğan won 52.18 percent of the vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.82 percent in the runoff on May 28 despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.
In an interview with Habertürk TV last month, Kılıçdaroğlu indicated that he didn’t view the election loss as a “defeat” and refused to engage in any self-criticism for the results.
Akşener party supported the CHP mayoral candidates in the local elections of 2019, which helped the party win in big cities such as İstanbul and Ankara, where the AKP ruled for long years.