Turkey’s prime minister has threatened to pull out of politics if his party fails to win enough votes to run the country alone in Sunday’s general election. Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking at a rally in the south-west. “I will withdraw from politics if we can’t come to power alone,” he said, referring to his centre-right AK Party. “Hold on, hold on, why are you disturbed?” he asked the crowd. “We will come to power alone.”
Then Turkey’s most popular politician issued a challenge to his rivals in the main opposition, urging them to follow his example and pledge to stand down if their parties failed to win enough support to govern alone. Erdogan’s AK party is credited with around 40 per cent of the vote in opinion polls. But, because of the electoral system, some analysts are not ruling out a possible coalition government. Placed second in voter surveys, the centre-left Republican People’s Party is led by Deniz Baykal. He has tried to depict his AK rivals as bent on undermining Turkey’s secular system of government, something the premier denies. Also mounting a challenge is the far-right Nationalist Movement Party of Devlet Bahceli. Sunday’s election has been called early amid rising tension between Turkey’s secular elite and the ruling AK Party which has its roots in political Islam.