Istanbul’s Maltepe district on Sunday was the scene of Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s election rally, where he underlined the AK Party’s achievements during its 13 years in government
An immense crowd gathered Sunday in the Maltepe district of Istanbul to attend a rally with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has been traveling across the country to drum up support on the election trail. With less than a month left until the forthcoming June elections, leaders of political parties have accelerated their election campaigns and continue holding rallies across Turkey.
Davutoğlu held his first rally in the eastern province of Erzurum and arrived in Istanbul on Sunday to address hundreds of thousands of supporters that amassed in Istanbul's Maltepe district. The very location was the spot where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held his last rally as prime minister before he was elected president in August.
Intense preparations were underway for the Istanbul rally over the last few days. Five-thousand buses and some boats were fixed to ease the transportation to the location by the AK Party administration. Wide security measures were also taken before the rally was launched and thousands of water bottles were placed within the area of the rally for the participants, and tents were set up with health teams on site and necessary equipment in case a participant faces a health problem during the rally. The extra attention and intensive preparations for Istanbul derives from the significance the city bears as it will provide roughly the 16 percent of the votes in Turkey. The city's influence on the elections, as the messages delivered here are thought to spread to a greater diversity, prompts party leaders to attach greater importance to the rallies in Istanbul compared to the other provinces.
Akin to the previous countrywide rallies he held, in Istanbul, Davutoğlu focused on the progress Turkey has achieved in terms of social standards, economy and politics during the tenure of his party. Touting improvements that hitherto have eased the lives of commuters, Davutoğlu numbered a slew of works carried out by the AK Party, while he addressed his supporters.
Davutoğlu's election campaign has honed in on developments Turkey has undertaken, conveying a message that he will increase the level of development, hoping voters will continue to support the AK Party in the upcoming elections.
Taking into consideration the tone and context he adopts during his rallies, it would not be wrong to say that Davutoğlu uses criticism against the opposition parties as part of his election strategy. This tactic, common among all parties, has intensified as the elections draw nearer. Davutoğlu's main target in his criticism appears to be the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP). He castigated the pair for their, what he calls, "anti-religious" election promises, one of which is their vow to shut down the Presidency of Religious Affairs. What looks like a strategy to garner votes from Turkey's Alevi community, which is not willing to be attached to the political body, was criticized not only by Davutoğlu but also President Erdoğan during his speeches at inauguration ceremonies. The rhetoric of the duo chilled even more when the co-chair of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, said Taksim Square is to them what the Kaaba is to Muslims.
The HDP, which is vying to pass the election threshold to make it into Parliament, has recently adopted a democratic tone to expand its reach. However, this too has been slammed by government officials who accuse Demirtaş of posing as an advocate of democracy on one side and backing the armed struggle of the PKK and triggering violence in the east on the other.
Davutoğlu also targeted CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for forming an alliance with the HDP, which he says is a move merely for the purpose of enhancing their ability to crush the AK Party in the elections. The parties in question also lean toward the possibility of a coalition in case neither party gains sufficient votes to lead as a single party.
However, AK Party officials, confident that the party will secure enough seats to lead, have outspokenly said they are against coalitions. Davutoğlu, along with Erdoğan, have been speaking about the negative aspects of a coalition government by giving examples from Turkey's history as well as the benefits of shifting from the parliamentary system to a presidential system.
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