Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the presidential candidate of Turkey’s National Alliance and Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), captivated viewers on Wednesday evening in a highly anticipated online show, Babala TV’s “Mevzular Açık Mikrofon” (Issues, Open Mic).
The programme drew significant attention as the second round of the presidential election approaches, aired on the popular YouTube channel known for thought-provoking interviews, hosted by Oğuzhan Uğur. “Mevzular Açık Mikrofon” brings together politicians and a diverse young audience, challenging them with tough questions in an open and unfiltered format.
While incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ruling People’s Alliance candidate, had declined Kılıçdaroğlu’s invitations for debates on pre-scripted channels, Kılıçdaroğlu broke the mould by appearing on Babala TV, offering a rare opportunity for direct engagement.
Despite attempts by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to discourage party members and supporters from attending the studio event, the majority of the audience appeared to be Kılıçdaroğlu’s opponents, evident from the challenging nature of the questions presented to the opposition candidate.
Some questioners initially denied affiliation with the AKP but photographs later surfaced showing the same audience members alongside prominent AKP officials, including Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. Throughout the marathon-like seven-hour program, Kılıçdaroğlu fearlessly tackled numerous inquiries, with ample time for in-depth discussions.
“This was the first time we were able to engage in a direct and unfiltered conversation without any manipulations, editing, falsehoods, slander, or any kind of deception,” said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on his social media account, reflecting the significance of the occasion.
Kılıçdaroğlu had initially been cautious to appear on the show due to concerns about potential provocations but he accepted Uğur’s invitation via his social media channels before the second round of the election.
During the program, Kılıçdaroğlu addressed a wide range of topics, including his previous stance on the headscarf issue and his self-criticism, as well as the highly debated cases of Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala, for which he has faced accusations of holding intention to secure release from prison if elected president.