Main opposition candidate challenges Erdoğan to live television debate

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce has challenged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a live debate on television ahead of Turkey’s snap elections scheduled for June 24, independent news site Diken reported.

The invitation from İnce to Turkey’s strongman, who has not appeared for a live debate on television since 2002, came during İnce’s campaign trail in the northwestern province of Bursa. ‘’Let’s talk about the future of our children, let’s talk about education,’’ the CHP candidate said as he challenged Erdoğan.

‘’Come and teach me about economics,’’ İnce added, in an apparent reference to Erdoğan’s statement last week that he has studied economics and knows the inner workings of the field.

The Turkish president’s growth-focused financial policies almost took Turkey to the brink of a currency crisis in May. Erdoğan has  resisted rate increases ahead of elections in a few weeks, maintaining that they would stoke inflation.

İnce also hit back at Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ’s recent statement that members of the CHP are conveniently ''remembering mosques'' as the elections draw near, implying that the opposition is using religion for political gain.

‘’Do these mosques belong to your father?’’ the outspoken candidate asked. ‘’All praise is due to God, we are Muslim, too.’’

İnce reminded Bozdağ of their umrah (lesser pilgrimage) in the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina together before asking the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) to remove mosques from their campaigning.

Erdoğan has repeatedly rejected calls for television debates since 2002 when his leading AKP first came to power, citing that he has nothing to discuss with his opponents.