Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan drew severe criticism on Friday after he threw packaged toys to people while he was travelling on a bus in the earthquake-hit southeastern province of Hatay.
Many people online called the act shameful after videos showing Erdoğan throwing the toys were shared on social media. A few weeks ago, Erdoğan also sparked outrage after he gave cash to children when visiting the region heavily destroyed by the earthquakes.
The president gave a long speech on Sunday in a general board meeting of an Islamist foundation, revealing talking points he will most likely repeat during his election campaign.
“A new election and we are observing a new examination. The date 14 May has turned into an historical juncture. All, from terrorist organisations to global powers, have fixated on 14 May,” Erdoğan said, adding that the Russian President Vladimir Putin explained to him how they saw the elections from Moscow during a phone conversation made earlier.
“They are carrying out all kinds of operations in order to get election results that fit their interests. Can something good come to our country, our homeland, out of those people who walk side by side terrorist organisations,” the president said.
“We cannot hand the future of our nation to those who do not refrain from doing business with marginal groups, including the political extensions of the separatist organisation in order to gain a few more votes,” Erdoğan said.
The president did not openly state whom he was implying, but his words point to the six-party Nation Alliance’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Kılıçdaroğlu met with the co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the parliament on Monday, ahead of elections in which he needs the support of Kurdish voters to defeat Erdoğan.
The HDP announced on Wednesday that it will not field its own presidential candidate in elections, which in practice means at least opening the way to its voters who want to support Kılıçdaroğlu for a decisive win against Erdoğan.
Following the pro-Kurdish party’s announcement, the pro-government media escalated its attacks on Kılıçdaroğlu, arguing that he is getting the support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“By supporting Kılıçdaroğlu in presidential elections, the HDP openly showed the choice of Qandil and sat at the table,” wrote Hilal Kaplan on Friday, a famous pro-government pundit, referring to the PKK basis in northern Iraq and the Nation Alliance, which is also known as the “table of six”.
“From this moment on there is nothing else left to us, other than saying this loudly: Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is the candidate of the PKK,” said Kaplan in her column in Sabah newspaper.