ISTANBUL/ANKARA - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan turns to the ballot box that has favored him over a decade on Sunday in his battle to ward off graft allegations and stem a stream of damaging security leaks he blames on "traitors" embedded in the Turkish state.
The municipal elections have become a crisis referendum on the rule of Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party and he has been crisscrossing the nation of 77 million during weeks of hectic campaigning to rally his conservative core voters.
"They are all traitors," Erdogan said of his opponents at a rally in Istanbul, Turkey's commercial capital, on Saturday. "Let them do what they want. Go to the ballot box tomorrow and teach all of them a lesson ... Let's give them an Ottoman slap."