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Turkey’s Erdogan dares opposition to ‘find my golden toilet’

Erdogan

Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday invited the opposition to inspect his gigantic presidential palace for gold-plated toilet seats, vowing to resign if they could prove their allegations of his bathroom bling.

Erdogan’s 1,150-room palace, which was built at a cost of around 490 million euros ($615 million), has been condemned by critics as an absurd extravagance and held up as proof he is slipping further into authoritarianism.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has repeatedly attacked Erdogan for his profligacy in the run-up to this week’s parliamentary elections. On Saturday, he claimed that the presidential palace had golden toilet seats.

“Palaces have been built for you, planes have been bought, golden (toilet) seats have been bought…” Kilicdaroglu said at a rally in the western port city of Izmir, a CHP bastion.

“How can you represent the people’s will when you’re sitting on a gold-plated toilet?”

Erdogan, who moved to the palace after being elected president in August 2014 following 11 years as prime minister, challenged Kilicdaroglu to search the gigantic complex for the rumoured seats.

“I invite you to please come and take a tour of the palace. I wonder if you will be able to find a single gold-plated toilet seat in any of these bathrooms,” he retorted at a rally in the eastern Igdir province.

“If you find one, I will resign from the presidency,” he said, adding that an official invitation had already been sent to Kilicdaroglu’s office.

Built in a suburb of the capital Ankara, covering an area of some 200,000 square metres (2.15 million square feet) — more than 30 times the size of the White House, bigger even than France’s majestic Palace of Versailles.

Erdogan has repeatedly defended the palace, describing it as a “work of art” that represents a modern and fast-developing Turkey.

Previously, Turkish presidents worked in the far more modest Cankaya palace in downtown Ankara.

Erdogan is hoping his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wins a two-thirds parliamentary majority in Sunday’s election. A majority of that magnitude would allo him to change the constitution and boost the powers of the president.

But polls suggest that far from winning a two-thirds majority, the AKP could even fail to win a simple majority.

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