Main opposition CHP announces İnce as presidential candidate

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CHP Yalova lawmaker and candidate for Chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince (C) and his wife Ulku Ince (R), greet people during the Party's 36th ordinary congress in Ankara, on February on 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Friday announced CHP Yalova deputy Muharrem İnce as its candidate for the June 24 snap presidential election.

İnce’s name was announced by CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during a party gathering at Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Gym in Ankara.

İnce, a vocal critic of his own party, twice lost the leadership race to Kılıçdaroğlu at the CHP’s general congress in 2014 and 2018. In May 2016 he also voted against revoking the parliamentary immunity of deputies, legislation that primarily targeted Kurdish members of parliament.

İnce has been in Parliament since 2002. Acclaimed as the “best demagogue” in the main opposition party, a fervent 10-minute speech he gave to the general assembly in 2013  went viral on the Internet.

After Kılıçdaroğlu implied that the candidate would be a successful economist, either Abdüllatif Şener or Ali Babacan were claimed to be the CHP’s choice. Inside the CHP, however, several party members argued beforehand that the candidate should be “one of us.” Apart from İnce, veteran politicians İlhan Kesici and Yılmaz Büyükerşen were believed to be possibilities.

The Felicity Party (SP) announced on Tuesday that the party’s chairman, Temel Karamollaoğlu, would be its presidential candidate in the election on June 24.

The İYİ Party recently named the party’s chairwoman, Meral Akşener, to represent it in the election.

A move by Karamollaoğlu to put forward former President Abdullah Gül failed last week.

Gül on Saturday said he would not challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the snap presidential election, underlining that his decision was due to a lack of consensus between opposition parties.

“I said I would not turn down the responsibility if a general consensus were reached. I appreciate Mr. Temel’s efforts. It seems there is not such a general demand after all. I will not be a candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Turkish media reported that President Erdoğan on Thursday sent Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Erdoğan advisor İbrahim Kalın to talk to Gül in an effort to prevent his candidacy.

CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu on Sunday criticized Akar’s visit to Gül to talk about his possible run against Erdoğan, calling it “tutelage.”

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