Uzan’s nationalist Youth Party is just behind Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in the run-up to voting, now less than 12-moths away, Associated Press reported..
In the past year, Erdogan’s government has revoked the rights of the Uzan family’s business to operate two power plants, saying they’d breached regulations. Uzan’s flagship bank, a ready source of finance to family-controlled ventures, has also had its license rescinded for unsafe practices.
“My business would probably be in much better shape if I hadn’t entered politics,” Uzan told Associated Press in an interview.
Erdogan Refutes Claims
Erdogan says his government is cracking down on corruption and disputes claims that he is pursuing a personal vendetta. Earlier this week a state-prosecutor charged Uzan with insulting members of the government, which if proven in court, may result in him being barred from political office.
"We have no personal vendetta. We have a duty to the people to get rid of dirty odors in the country,"
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Uzan has responded by mounting a media campaign accusing the Turkish prime minister and his party of having an Islamic agenda.
Furthermore, his family-controlled newspaper, The Star, earlier this year, printed a picture of Erdogan with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan warlord now allied with the Taliban.
“We’re seeing the clash of the charismatic leaders,” Omar Faruk Genckaya of Ankara’s Bilkent University.
Still, Uzan is no stranger to controversy. Motorola and Nokia last year began legal action against the Turkish owners of mobile phone operator Telsim claiming the family had attempted to defraud them of as much as $2 billion.
Some say Erdogan will have to prove his allegations and that if he is perceived as waging a personal war against Uzan, he will lose his slender political advantage.
The battle between the two looks set to continue.