Turkish unrest grows as Erdogan’s ‘economic war’ hits cost of living


When the Turks complained this week about the depreciation of the lira and the rising cost of living, they received a surprising offer from the MP from the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: just eat a little.

“Suppose, in our normal diet, we eat about two pounds[1 kg]of meat a month. Let’s eat half a kilo, ”Zulfu Demirbag said in a headline on Tuesday as the price dropped by 15 percent against the dollar. “If we buy two kilograms of tomatoes, let’s just buy two tomatoes,” he continued, echoing Erdogan’s call for people to join him in the fight against the shadowy forces that are trying to destroy Turkey.

Such remarks may still apply to loyal supporters of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) who see the president as a powerful leader struggling to ensure the rightful place of Turkey. But for most people they are wearing thin.

“There is a large group of people who can vote for the party and Erdogan in any case,” said Sinem Adar, a co-founder of the Center for Applied Turkey Studies in Berlin. “But a [AKP] areas are beginning to become dissatisfied with policy and government. Slowly descending from September on any reliable basis. ”

The Turkish people were caught in the crossfire as they watched the cry go down after the country’s central bank, led by Erdogan, cut its interest rate for the third month in a row despite rising interest rates of 20 percent last month. The lira has dropped by 20 percent against the dollar since the beginning of November. His decline was exacerbated by the President’s announcement on Monday that the country was embarking on an “independent economic war” similar to the country’s liberation struggle in the 1920s and called for a reduction in tariffs.

The technology company Apple stopped online trading in Turkey on Tuesday when the price fell to the level of 11, 12 and then 13 to the dollar, making it impossible for manufacturers to sell their products. “When I got into the elevator, the dollar was 11.55. When I got out it was 12.15,” a young Istanbul lawyer said in a tweet that quickly spread.

As he followed the turmoil from a distance, many international traders predicted that Erdogan would eventually accept a sharp rise in interest rates to end the financial collapse, as he did during the 2018 financial crisis.

But Turkish observers are skeptical that the President is not happy about the decline. “I do not think this is the result of ignorance or a ‘crazy’ move because of religious beliefs,” said Ibrahim Turhan, a former AKP member who is now a member of a divided party. “This is, in my opinion, a change in policy.”

Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey for nearly two decades, made a statement this week, arguing that “competitive trade opens the door to increased revenue, productivity and performance”. Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, and will not run for office.

Analysts were left wondering if the President, who had done well in politics because of the country’s development, was willing to let the money go – and what the consequences could be in politics if, as economists warn, inflation causes hyperinflation of 30 percent or more.

Erdogan and his colleague Devlet Bahceli, leader of the ultra rightwing Nationalist Movement (MHP), have rejected calls from protesters to advance the 2023 elections.

“I still wonder if this alliance can last until 2023 as it is rapidly weakening,” Adar said. What if it suddenly falls? If the MHP or security forces withdraw their support from the commanding alliance? “

Others say that the pressure comes from criminals who are part of the ruling party. “You do not want to be the MP for the AKP when the train is sinking, especially if you are not inside,” said Can Selcuki, chief of the Turkish Voting Commission Raporu.

Although life this week continued as normal in a country that has been plagued by countless terrorists, attempts to seize power and economic stagnation for the past six years, there were few signs of instability. Lines were formed at some of the oil wells in anticipation of rising prices. Small demonstrations, some of which were organized by the Turkish Communist Party, led to the arrest of Istanbul and Ankara.

Selim Koru, an expert on the Tepav tank from Ankara, said Erdogan would use force if more people took to the streets. “Those who follow him are few now, and he is failing,” he said. “They will continue to be intimidated by protests.”

Some dissident voters think that the Turkish president, who has adopted more repressive measures in recent years, could call for a re-election or suspend it if it appears that efforts to strengthen his support through legitimate means are not bearing fruit.

Members of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spoke out in fears at a meeting of the party’s central committee on Thursday that the Turkish president could announce the disaster.

One anti-terrorist official mocked the protest. But he added: “When we consider the government that governs this country, nothing is impossible.”


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