Erdoğan addresses 1.7 million in historic Istanbul rally

Erdoğan addresses 1.7 million in historic Istanbul rally

With the slogan ‘Türkiye is entrusted to you,’ the major Istanbul rally is expected to strengthen faith in the ruling AK Party ahead of the May 14 elections

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held his campaign’s largest rally so far in Istanbul on Sunday with a historic crowd of 1.7 million people ahead of the May 14 polls, underlining the many achievements reached during the governance of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

“Istanbul is Türkiye,” he highlighted, thanking the people of Istanbul for continuing their support of him. “We will establish the Century of Türkiye together with you.”

“If Istanbul says ‘Yes’, this will end,” the president said, calling on the people to vote for him in the elections.

The May 14 elections are not a question of this candidate or this party, it is a question of preserving Türkiye’s gains, Erdoğan indicated.

We will send the opposition into retirement, Erdoğan added, emphasizing that the opposition is putting an obstacle to every work of the AK Party and are disturbed by the country’s gains.

“We have increased national income three times in 21 years. We have built 10.5 million houses and provided homes for our families,” he added.

The president shared a video of the projects and works the party has realized, while sharing another one that mentioned the future goals of the president.

“We will not only add the inflation difference to the salaries of our civil servants in July, we will also increase the welfare share. On Tuesday, I hope to announce to the public the results of the talks our Minister is currently holding with the unions.”

He further said that the youth will be preferred in providing jobs and decreasing unemployment while promising new incentives for the young.

He also touched upon the devastating February 6 earthquakes, saying: “We removed the ruins in three months and started the construction of new houses. We delivered the first village houses during the Bayram holiday. The number of residences and village houses, whose construction process has started, has reached 142,000, and the number of houses whose foundations have been laid has reached 59,000.”

“We are working to revive our cities with 650,000 houses, of which approximately 319,000 will be delivered within a year.”

Erdoğan hit out at the six-party coalition for cooperating with terrorists and told the crowd not to allow the opposition to divide the country.

“They take their instructions from Qandil,” Erdoğan said.

He also criticized Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu for not serving Istanbul and rallying throughout Türkiye for the elections.

“Mr. Kemal gave instructions to him, saying, ‘Go to Van.’ When he went there, he made the sign PKK members make. Ekrem, you are from Trabzon, what are you doing there when you should be in Istanbul?”

Erdoğan seeks a new term on the centenary of the Republic of Türkiye after dominating the Turkish political landscape for years as prime minister and president at the May 14 elections. His main rival is a six-party opposition coalition’s candidate Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

On the other side, he indicated that the best response to Western media targeting himself and Türkiye would be to see the huge crowds at Atatürk Airport.

Erdoğan’s words came after the London-based weekly, The Economist, drew the ire of the president’s supporters again with a cover calling for a victory for the opposition last week.

The cover with the title “The Most Important Election of 2023” was adorned with tags “Save Democracy” and “Erdoğan Must Go.” Social media users were furious.

The rally was held at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, now partly a public recreation area, a week before critical presidential and parliamentary elections under the motto “Türkiye is entrusted unto you.”

The rally, expected to be the biggest witnessed either in Türkiye or Europe, is being held at the Atatürk Airport due to its symbolism as the point of struggle for democracy during the July 15 coup attempt in 2016.

Erdoğan, recently forced to take a break from a demanding campaigning schedule due to illness, has been back on the campaign trail since last week.

Istanbul is important to Erdoğan, as he began his political career in the city, starting as mayor in the early 1990s before becoming prime minister and president.

In 2019, however, his party lost to the opposition in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, ending the 25-year rule of Erdoğan and his predecessors in the two major cities.

The opposition’s Nation Alliance similarly held an Istanbul rally just a day before Erdoğan.

Campaigning has been increasingly intense ahead of the May 14 polls, with Erdoğan accusing opposition lawmakers of treason and backing terror.