Turkish PM ridicules rival candidate at election rally

July 07, 2014 - 10:29:04 am

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Recep Tayyip Erdogan ridiculed his main election opponent yesterday, referring to him as “mon cher” — a derogatory term used in Turkey to describe elitists.

“They ask a candidate whether he will address the issue of roads (construction) if elected. He replies he has nothing to do with roads ... They are mon cher but we are servants,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters in a rally in the eastern province of Erzurum.

In Turkish, the French phrase “mon cher” (“my dear” in English) is a term of ridicule which Erdogan has used in the past to describe retired Turkish diplomats. Yesterday, he used it to refer to Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu — the softly spoken, bespectacled intellectual put forward as a joint candidate by the main opposition parties to defeat Erdogan in the country’s first direct presidential election in August. Ihsanoglu is a former head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the global grouping of Muslim nations, and a scholar who makes no secret of his devotion to Islam.

His nomination by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party, who have often struggled to provide a united front against Erdogan, has fuelled concerns among secular voters.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade, is seen a clear favourite in the August 10 polls. But a series of crises over the past year ranging from mass street protests to a vast corruption scandal has badly bruised his stature both home and abroad.AFP