Opposition leaders Kılıçdaroğlu, Babacan rebuke Erdoğan’s call for virtue

Leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu visited the seven-month-old opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), founded by former minister Ali Babacan, DEVA's official Twitter account announced on Thursday.

The CHP leader said the visit aimed to congratulate the fresh new party, and not to discuss alliances for an upcoming elections, a topic which has been hotly debated on Turkish media. “If an election comes up, maybe that can be discussed then,” he said, calling the DEVA a rising star in the Turkish political realm.

Speaking to reporters after the visit, the two leaders rebuked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments earlier in the week, where he urged the faithful to virtue and patience.

“He who gives himself to the allure of this realm loses both his world and beyond,” Erdoğan said on a Tuesday meeting with Turkey’s imams and mosque workers. “Believers are tasked with not being spoiled, with patience at times of hardship. The true believer is he who makes honey out of pain.”

Babacan, a former ally of Erdoğan, said governments must provide the highest level of prosperity for citizens, and not ask them to be patient through poverty. “I do not believe it is up to a government to be unable to do that, and advice for patience,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu called Erdoğan hypocritical, saying: “A person’s words and actions must match. For those who say one thing and live another way, there is hypocrisy.”

Believers would not live in palaces as children go hungry, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Babacan said he expected an election earlier than the one scheduled for 2023. “It is not possible in Turkey for the economic or financial system to continue, or political legitimacy hold up,” said the former minister often praised for the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) economic success in its first decade in power.

Turkey is in an economic bind, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “The country can no longer be governed,” he continued, lamenting Erdoğan “bowing down before another state’s leader for money.”

Opposition news platform Karar had published a photograph of Erdoğan, appearing to have bowed when he greeted Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik slammed Kılıçdaroğlu in a series of tweets, calling the opposition leader “pitiful.”

“This slander of the Presidency of Turkey is at this point a declaration of hostility,” Çelik said, sharing a video from the visit in question. Kılıçdaroğlu “produces lies to belittle the Republic of Turkey,” he said, engaging with “black propaganda the likes of which would only be produced by foreign states.”