Erdogan maintains polarizing tone in the first moments of new term
Turkey stepped into the first day of the president's new term after the election runoff as tens of thousands of supporters around midnight responded to victorious Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "terrorist" remarks targeting imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas by vigorously chanting, "Death sentence to Selo."
Erdogan, who defeated his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu by a clear margin of four points, delivered his first victory address late Sunday in Istanbul, and arrived in Ankara for the real show. His supporters flooded to fill the area around the presidential complex, and he made his address on the balcony.
While some wondered if he would now choose to wind down his accusing discourse against the opposition and give a message of unity, Erdogan did the reverse. He maintained his polarizing tone against his political opponents, reiterating his false claim that Kilicdaroglu had secretly made a deal with the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
He did not even refrain from blatantly claiming once again that Kilicdaroglu had images of PKK officials used in his campaign video. The video, with inserted images of a PKK figure singing and clapping, was earlier shown on giant screen at a rally by Erdogan himself, and he admitted weeks later that it was a manipulated one, "the product of some quick witted young people."
Neither did Erdogan cease his persistent attacks on Selahattin Demirtas, who has been incarcerated since November 2016 and denied release despite rulings by Turkey's Court of Cassation, Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights.
Calling Demirtas "terrorist Selo," and claiming that Kilicdaroglu pledged to free Demirtas in exchange for the backing of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at the elections, Erdogan said that "a person who is responsible for the death of 51 Kurds in Diyarbakir will not be released, particularly in a country like Turkey that is governed by rule of law and justice."
At that point he was responded by the crowd with chants of "Death sentence to Selo."
He went on to say that "this nation has proved over and over again in every crisis what a strong disposition and foresight it has, what a sharp acumen it possesses."
"I thank God for bringing me to the world as the child of such a nation."