President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed he would step down if his people decided it was “enough”, prompting opponents to propel the word in Turkish to the top of worldwide Twitter trends.
Erdogan will on June 24 contest a presidential election, seeking a new mandate to extend his 15 years in power which began when he became premier in 2003 and continued with his move to the presidency in 2014.
His ruling party is confident of victory in the polls but the country remains highly polarised between supporters of Erdogan and those who oppose him with equal passion.
Speaking to his party in Ankara, Erdogan said his foes “have just one care – to destroy Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
“If one day our nation says ‘enough’, then we will move to the side,” he said, referring to himself in the first person plural.
Erdogan said the Turkish people had until now always given the right response to those who sought to destroy him, recalling the failed 2016 coup against his rule.
Predicting victory in the election, he added: “God willing, I believe we will, together with our nation, on June 24 once again give a well-deserved lesson to this team of destruction.”
Opponents rapidly seized on the word he had used in Turkish for “enough” -“tamam”- and turned it into the top Twitter trend not just in Turkey but around the world with over 450,000 tweets by the afternoon.
“Enough, God Willing”
Some simply tweeted the word in bold letters with spaces -T A M A M- while others added slogans. “Just please go now,” wrote one user.
Others just wrote the word TAMAM as many times as they could within Twitter’s character limit, or made fancy shapes with its letters.
The word was also rapidly seized upon by Erdogan’s rivals who will face him in the June 24 poll and seek to force a run-off.
“Time’s Up!” (in Turkish “Vakit TAMAM!”) tweeted Muharrem Ince, the candidate of the main secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“T A M A M,” tweeted Meral Aksener, the leader of the newly-formed nationalist party the Iyi (Good) Party.
“Enough, God Willing” (“T A M A M Insallah”) added Temel Karamollaoglu, leader of the conservative Saadet (Felicity) Party who is also to run against Erdogan.
Denounced by his opponents as an authoritarian leader and throwback to the Ottoman sultans, Erdogan boasts of having brought Turkey to a new level of economic prosperity and foreign policy influence under his rule.
While there is strong hostility to him on the Aegean coast, some Kurdish areas and parts of Istanbul and Ankara, he retains widespread and massively enthusiastic support in the Anatolian core of the country.