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Meral Aksener launches Turkish presidential election campaign

Iyi Party leader says she is seeking to fill what she says is 'the administrative vacuum in Turkey'.

Meral Aksener

Meral Aksener, a Turkish presidential candidate and leader of the opposition Iyi (Good) Party, has announced her party's manifesto for the upcoming elections, promising to fill what she calls "an administrative vacuum" in the country.

Aksener, 61, kicked off her election campaign for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections on Monday, addressing a cheering crowd in the capital, Ankara.

"We are seeking power to fill the administrative vacuum in Turkey to allow people to breathe a sigh of relief," she said.

Aksener said state institutions in Turkey were currently working to "make a single person happy" - apparently a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - in a speech that failed to reveal detailed policy plans.

Aksener, a former interior minister and a popular personality in right-wing politics, launched her new party in October using "Turkey will be good" as its slogan.

The party, which has adopted a centre-right platform, has been backed by several members of Turkey's 550-seat parliament, as well as other well-known public figures named in its constituent structure.

She is widely seen in Turkey as the main challenger of Erdogan, who has ruled the country as prime minister and then president for 16 years.

"The state institutions are lagging behind the issues they are assigned to handle," Aksener said, highlighting increasing unemployment and inflation data as well as the fall of the lira as examples. 

Aksener promised to bring inflation below five percent.

Turkey's consumer price inflation stood at 11 percent in April year-on-year, and the lira lost more than 10 percent against the US dollar the same month. Unemployment was 10.8 percent in January.

'Transparent foreign policy'

In her speech, Aksener said Turkey's current foreign policy was feeding from "crises", while promising to carry it out in a "transparent" manner if elected.

She has repeatedly blamed the government in recent months for not discussing foreign policy issues in parliament, but she gave support to the military operation into northwestern Syria against Kurdish fighters there, calling it necessary for "Turkey's security".

The president to be elected in June will take over with increased powers as a result of constitutional changes made through the referendum in April 2017.

Aksener rallied against constitutional changes that narrowly passed in the referendum, and she promised to roll Turkey back to the parliamentary system if she wins the election.

Under the changes, the new president will have powers to appoint vice presidents, ministers, high-level officials and senior judges. The president will also be able to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees, and impose a state of emergency.

Iyi Party is entering the parliamentary elections in an alliance with the main opposition centre-left Republican People's Party and two smaller right-wing parties, while Aksener will run in the presidential race as the sole candidate of her party. 

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