Ince’s withdrawal from the race could help the opposition trying to defeat incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I withdraw my candidacy,” Muharrem Ince told reporters.
He said that fake sexual images that circulated on social media convinced him to quit. Ince complained saying that for 45 days he was slandered and lynched by the media, and the Turkish authorities failed to protect his reputation.
“Fake invoices, fake videos, fake photos… they took a video from an Israeli porn site and added my face to it. Unfortunately, some people in Turkey shared them for the sake of being in the so-called opposition,” he said.
However, Ince admitted that he did not want to be accused by the alliance of opposition parties that the elections were lost because of him. Ince’s decision to withdraw gives a big boost to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the main rival of President Erdogan, experts say. Kilicdaroglu, aged 74, leads an alliance of six opposition parties, and the latest polls give him 49% of the vote.
Even if Ince does not have many votes, his withdrawal could be decisive in the electoral confrontation. Erdogan has been leading his country for over 20 years, but now he faces the most balanced elections. Turkey has an inflation rate of 44%, and Erdogan has been criticized for his intervention following the February earthquakes.
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