Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), conceded defeat in what he called “unjust” presidential elections on June 25 but vowed to continue his political fight.
“There is no significant difference between the official ballot reports that our officials have shown us and the numbers announced by the Supreme Board of Elections [YSK]. The differences do not have the power to change the results. So, I concede the results of the elections,” İnce said at a press conference at the CHP headquarters in Ankara on June 25.
His comments came hours after unofficial election results showed İnce garnered 30.6 percent of the votes, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won by 52.6 percent of the votes.
When asked why he waited hours to speak publicly, he said he was waiting for the final results as it was still possible that Erdoğan’s support could go below 50 percent while votes were still being counted.
“Did they steal votes? Yes, they did. But did they steal 10 million votes? No,” İnce added, stating that Erdoğan’s victory margin was so wide that it “cannot be explained merely by election irregularities.”
But İnce stressed that there were “some issues” with the election process that required an explanation, like Erdoğan scoring higher than he did in the controversial April 2017 referendum in which Turks narrowly approved a shift to the presidential system.
He also warned that Turkey was entering a dangerous regime of a one-man rule. The CHP and international rights groups have complained about what they see as unequal conditions in Turkey, including racing in polls under the state of emergency and TV broadcasters, which have been accused of favoring the ruling party, giving little air time to opposition candidates.
From 15 million voters to 30 million
“We will continue to struggle and embrace our people. As a person who has received the consent of one in three citizens, I will continue my fight to win all our citizens’ good wishes,” İnce said.
The CHP’s nominee recalled that he received the votes of nearly 15 million Turkish people and said he was ready to increase this support to 30 million in the next elections.
The CHP candidate refused to answer questions about the future of his party but stressed that he got 30.6 percent of the vote, the highest CHP ever got in decades. But he signaled that he might be ready to lead the party.
“I am saying that we can win. We have broken the 30 percent threshold. We can therefore break the 50 percent threshold. I am here. If they tell me to walk in front of them, I am ready to walk,” he said.
Referring to the upcoming local elections in March 2019, İnce said the CHP should get ready for the polls starting from today.
İnce called on Erdoğan to be “the president of everyone,” instead of acting as the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
He denied social media rumors that he was “threatened” by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Nobody threatened me and nobody can. The rumors that I went to the palace and spoke to Erdoğan are all wrong. It is wrong to spread such baseless rumors,” he said.