Erdogan's top election rival forms new party

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: Archive)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: Archive)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top rival in Turkey's 2018 election announced on Tuesday that he had formed a new party that he plans to lead in the next campaign.

Muharrem Ince represented the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) when he picked up 30.6 percent of the vote against Erdogan's 52.6 in Turkey's last national polls.

He proved to be a powerful orator who built up a solid support base despite the snap polls being announced just months in advance.

But the 56-year-old then fell out with CHP leaders and unsuccessfully challenged current head Kemal Kilicdaroglu for the left-leaning party's leadership post.

Ince has done little to hide his political ambitions since his strong performance in 2018.

He brandished his secular brand of nationalism in a nationwide tour of the mostly Muslim country dubbed the "Motherland Movement in 1,000 days" in 2020.

Ince called his new party Memleket Partisi (Homeland Party) and accused Erdogan's government of "looting" the state.

"We are going to transform, change Turkey," Ince told his supporters during an outdoor rally in the capital Ankara.

"The current authorities cannot be trusted to offer a single solution to our country's problems."

The next presidential election is expected to be held in June 2023.

Erdogan's support has eroded since 2018 because of a sharp depreciation in the value of the lira currency and high unemployment.

But he still comfortably leads all potential rivals in head-to-head opinion polls.