The main rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a weekend presidential election said Monday he accepted defeat in the first round. However, OSCE observers said the ruling party had enjoyed undue advantages.
“I accept these election results,” said Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) who came second to Erdogan in the polls but had launched an energetic challenge in the campaign.
However, on Monday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said opposition parties were denied equal conditions for campaigning and that the incumbent president and ruling party enjoyed undue advantages, including in the media.
“The restrictions we have seen on fundamental freedoms have had an impact on these elections. I hope that Turkey lifts these restrictions as soon as possible,” said Ignacio Sanchez Amor, head of the OSCE short-term observer mission in Turkey.
But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign, also said the run-up to the election had been unfair.
“This election was unjust until the results were announced,” he told a news conference at CHP headquarters.
He thanked party observers who had watched a tense count to ensure no foul play. “There were votes played with, our friends who saw this fought against this… In my name and in Turkey’s name, I thank them.”
“We will continue our fight until Turkey is a Turkey for everyone.”
“There’s a 10 million difference here, friends”
OSCE observers praised the high participation of Turkish citizens in the elections, saying they had demonstrated their commitment to democracy. Turnout in Sunday’s polls was around 87 percent.
With Erdogan polling 52.6 percent against his 30.6 percent, Ince acknowledged that the Turkish strongman had won over 10 million more votes than him.
“There is a 10 million difference here, friends. We are not running away, we have not been threatened, this is not true.”
“Did CHP have mistakes? Yes there were,” adding: “I will not enter into these issues.”
Ince defended his decision – which disappointed many at the CHP – not to comment on the results when they were first issued on Sunday night.
“I wanted the results to be certain, that’s why I did not come out,” he said, admitting he had targeted 35 percent to help push Erdogan to a second round.
He urged Erdogan to be a leader of all Turks adding that Erdogan should “represent 80 million” and telling him: “You are the president for us all.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)