For Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, failure in the legislative elections on June 7 is simply not an option.
He took over as prime minister and head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in August 2014 when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved to the presidency after a triumphant decade as premier and party chief.
In that period, the AKP had won three decisive general election victories in 2002, 2007 and most recently in 2011, where it won almost 50 percent of the vote.
But the party faces its biggest test yet in the June 7 polls, with support waning against the background of a weakening economy. Some predict it may need to form a coalition government.
The onus has fallen on Davutoglu — a bookish former academic who served as foreign minster under Erdogan — to rouse the AKP faithful like his charismatic predecessor.
“Any prospect of a failure for the AKP is out of the question,” Davutoglu said in an interview with Agence France-Presse in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, one of the party`s bastions of support.
“In fact, there is no other party that makes a claim to come first, except us. We have no rival in a real sense,” he said.
Davutoglu said he expected the AKP to take more than 42 percent of the vote, but said even at that figure it would be by far and away the largest party.
“The AKP`s success story will continue in any case,” he said.
“I always said if we fail to emerge as the first party, I will quit. None of the (other) party leaders dare to say it.”The campaign is the party`s first without Erdogan as AKP leader, with Davutoglu under pressure in the campaign to show a political vigour that can match the president`s charisma.
The effort has taken its toll on the usually mild-mannered premier, who has been on a non-stop election tour of over 70 provinces, from the Iraqi border to the Aegean Sea.
Davutoglu, 56, has raised the decibel count in meetings and is now struggling through the remainder of the campaign with a hoarse voice.
The premier, seen as the architect of Turkey`s controversial foreign policy under Erdogan, admitted he misses academia but tries to turn town squares into lecture theatres.