News round up: Erdogan, Elections, cars and jets
Sunday election to be most unpredictable yet
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said that the June 7 election will be the “hardest to predict”, as Turks prepare to head to the polls at the end of the week,
“This election will be very important. It will define Turkey for the next eight years, determine its stability and trust,” Babacan says.
Recent polls show a decline in the ruling AK Party influence. AKP faces a huge challenge to the majority rule its experienced since coming to power in 2002.
The chances of AKP getting a ruling majority of 276 delegates in parliament are shaky, and the Erdogan’s hopes of 330 delegates - allowing him to move for a presidential rule - are even more unlikely.
All eyes are on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who are hoping to pass the 10 percent electoral threshold, making a coalition government likely.
“Find my golden toilet - and I’ll resign,” Erdogan challenges opposition leader
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he’ll resign if the main opposition leader can find even one golden toilet seat in his large palace.
Affronted by the insinuations over his lavish spending, Erdogan has challenged his rival to search each room of his palace - a task that might take a while, with 1000 rooms to check - for the rumoured golden toilet.
"If he finds it, I will resign from the presidency," he told state television on Sunday.
Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu made a series of claims about the luxuriousness of the new palace during a campaign speech ahead of the elections this Sunday.
"Gentlemen in Ankara, palaces have been built for you, planes bought, Mercedes cars purchased ... golden seats have been bought, that's how you use the toilet," Mr Kilicdaroglu told a rally in Izmir.
Erdogan moved into his enormous new home after winning the presidential election last August. He has invited Kilicdaroglu to come and view his palace. "I invite him to please come and take a tour ... I wonder if he will be able to find such a golden toilet seat in any of these washrooms."
Previous heads of state have resided in more modest palaces, but Erdogan’s move to the huge Ak Saray - the White Palace - is in tune with his ambitions to create a “New Turkey”, amending the constitution to allow him to create an executive presidential system.
Critics have said that Erdogan sees himself as a modern-day Sultan.
Turkish-built cars and jets on the horizon
A prototype of a car designed and built in Turkey will be completed in August, and a fighter jet is currently being constructed in Istanbul.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced that the first batch of vehicles will begin to be produced in 2016. He reminded listeners, at a rally last week, that a Turkish-made fighter jet is also under construction in Turkey’s biggest city.
"Once, Turkey had to import even a single bullet. Now it is a country that can produce its own fighter jet," he said.
Davutoglu said that the government will also realise plans to build airliners - Dornier 328 and 628s, which should be airborne by 2019.
The planes will not only be used as passenger airliners but also as military transport aircraft, VIP planes and air ambulances, he said.
Manmade peninsula to address lack of space in Istanbul
A huge manmade peninsula as large as 10 football stadiums is set to extend the neighbourhood of Atakoy, which has run out of space for new buildings.
Expensive, upmarket Atakoy is a prime property spot, filled with exclusive residences, malls, and leisure facilities.
The project, named the Mega Marina, will be built as an extension to Atakoy, which, aside from a very small area, lacks the space for new construction. The Mega Marina will extend the area known as the Atakoy Tourism Complex, which contains a mall, two big name hotels, Atakoy Marina and Atakoy Marina Park.
The Mega Marina will contain a large entertainment centre, a restaurant, convention centre, office building, parking, yacht maintenance offices and several swimming pools.
The process of building the large extension is already underway, with filling materials being carried to the area by ships.
Erdogan reminds Ottoman conquest anniversary-goers of his own conquest
Hundreds of thousands turned out in Istanbul on Saturday to mark 562 years since the Ottomans conquered the city.
A mass ceremony, held on the outskirts of the city, was described by authorities as being “the biggest ever celebration in modern Turkey’s history.” The Turkish armed forces formed a 562-strong brigade dressed as Ottoman soldiers, and an Ottoman military band played conquest songs.
Turkish president Erdogan hosted the event, along with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Erdogan, who is supposed to be apolitical in his presidential post, has been campaigning hard for the ruling AKP party alongside Davutoglu.
Erdogan was PM for more than a decade, and is now campaigning for his former party to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the constitution and create a presidential system.
“To make Turkey stand up on its feet again is a conquest,” said Erdogan, insinuating that the AKP’s 12-year reign was as triumphant as the Ottoman sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s conquest of Istanbul.
“To reverse this nation’s ill fate for 12 years is a conquest. To successfully pass this turning point on the way to a new Turkey is a conquest,” he told the gathered audience.
“June 7 (elections), God willing, will be a conquest.”
Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on May 29, 1453, at the tender age of 21, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire.
Opinion polls point towards AKP’s support falling markedly from the almost 50 percent of the vote it achieved in 2011. Many believe that the ruling party could even lose its majority, opening the way for minor parties to bring change to the country.